Web 2.0 – The Promised Land

Approaching a definition of Web 2.0 – The Social Software Weblog

I have never really liked the ‘periodisation’ that comes out of ICT discourse — like calling ‘social software’ and the developments around content management systems (blogs)– the ‘Web 2.0’.

The Web has never really been one thing and never will be. ‘Web 1.0’ was never one thing and ‘Web 2.0’ is just part of ‘Web 1.0’ (as will be ‘Web 3.0’). It’s still just the same old web.

And being untrained in ‘Web 2.0s’ usage (like many people are) doesn’t necessarily mean that they are underprivileged or need to be ‘civilised’ and ‘freed’ from their ‘heirarchies’ (we have heard this all before). Perhaps they are advanced in other ways. They may want to permeate society with their own ‘advancements’ (empathy 2.0 or judgement 3.0 or cognitive capital 1.7 or greed 7.5). Society advances in a multitude of ways and not always in the directions that we want it to. (tag = slavery to micro-narratives, or you are free to draw on the walls of your cell but please don’t touch the meta tags!)

And I have a shitty car that is 30 years old and it suits my purposes (car 1.8). For someone else, it may not. The same goes for the web. The static web is fine for some. (And it will be interesting to see what sorts of communities are attracted to ‘web 2.0’; there were some pretty hokey ones in ‘web 1.0’). A technological process is just a technological process and ICT discourse keeps likening itself to the road to the Promised Land (and it has something to do with keeping your ‘bottom up’ and liking ‘everyday people’).

In fact, I met an ‘everyday person’ yesterday in the supermarket and I said:

‘Excuse me Mr everyday person are you keeping your bottom up?’

He told me ‘yes’ and that he was on the road to the Promised Land.

I said ‘what will it look like?’

And he said ‘everybody is horizontal and walks sideways and sticks little yellow labels on everything to remind themselves where they have been. They carry a big ball or string around and tie it on whomever they meet. That way they will never get lost and one day hopefully someone will find them and stick a little yellow label on them and then tie them up in a whole bunch of string and then they will be free.’

I said that sound like hell.

‘No it’s not hell. It is the Promised Land’. ‘The string man told me so’.

‘He’s pulling your string’ I said.


Anyhow, maybe it will (lead us to the Promised land), and I can’t wait, but it requires some nice people who are insightful pilots and not just the usual bunch of ‘white ants’ nibbling at the sides of what they think is social and cultural context (in the hope that ‘heirarchies’ might collapse and ‘structure’ might collapse…so that we are all free to put our ‘bottoms up’ and stick labels on things and walk sideways and be happy).

The man who invented the gun may have invented it to shoot rabbits so that ‘everyday people’ could eat; but then another man used it to blow off the everyman’s head. Social-context is King!

We need intelligent processes and eople to think about socio-technical contexts, not just more technological processes that create more technological processes built on more illusions that make more unhappy people that don’t even know that they are unhappy because that context isn’t an option on their menu structure (tag = “unhappy blind pilot lost again on the way to the Promosed Land”)

All that said (hallelujah), there are some interesting weblogs that are applying ‘social software’ in various social contexts in advanced ways (even though their critique may be a little tedious…a little like Web-critique 1.0 perhaps?).

Many folks are working towards getting at the heart of the Web 2.0 revolution. I agree that visualizations such as Tim O’Reilly’s or Dion Hinchcliffe’s are not simple enough they’re too jargon-filled and don’t do much to describe the big picture in human-readable terms. I really like Richard MacManus‘s breakdown: “Web 2.0 is really about normal everyday people using the Web and creating things on it – forget the acronyms.” Susan Mernit also captures this well: “The heart of Web 2.0 is the user The tools power it, but the people do it.”

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