Saturday, February 03, 2007

Web 2.0 ... The Machine is Us/ing Us

As I went through my typical routine of scanning through the 15 or so feeds I follow on a daily basis, I saw one post on Digg that caught my eye. Digg, if you have never used it, is a peer-production news site. This means that people all over the Internet submit stories to the site and the readers of the site select the stories (digg them!) that become the most popular and therefore get a spot on the front page. The title on Digg was "Web 2.0 - Explained through inventive video." I have been trying to find different ways to define Web 2.0 to people who are not 'Internet-savvy,' but have not been 100% successful. This video is the definition I have been looking for and it will help those who still don't get what Web 2.0 is all about... finally get it!

The video is produced by Michael Wesch, an Associate Professor in Antropology at Kansas State University, and uses the term 'Digital Ethnography' to define the genre he uses to bring Web 2.0 come to life.

The video starts with pencil and paper and quickly transitions into a digital format with a screen and a word processing application making the point that the difference between the written word and the digital word, which can be linked and extended. This creates a depth, a third dimension (Which I blogged on last week) giving the author and reader the opportunity to create a living document, which lives in a digital world that can stand alone or take on a life as a source for others inspirations or documentation of a path from one point to another.

Things move pretty fast in this 4 minute video, but there are a collection of things going on that bear mentioning. The 'Way Back Machine' from is a way to look at the historical look of pages from the late 1990's. Web 1.0 is defined as using HTML, where the code and the content were linked, or bonded together. Digital Text, XML, RSS and Web 2.0 allow the content and the code to become separated, allowing the content or information to be moved, fed and linked. The content can be moved without the constraints of the formatting of the web page. Most of this part of Web 2.o comes in the form of blogs and online journals.

The video then makes the jump from text, saying "It's not just the text" and brings in YouTube and Flickr as other forms of media that can be dynamic in the way they are stored and used. "XML facilitates automated data exchange and allows users to 'mash' the information from two sites into one." There is a scrolling Google Earth map, with Flickr photos linked to push pins in the map and displaying thumbnails of the pictures as a mouse scrolls over the push pin.

The question is asked... "Who will organize this data? We will," followed with a quick scroll of a page. The next image is of a Wired Magazine article, "We are the Web." The video pulls out several lines, which illustrate the points the fimmaker is trying to make. (I am piecing together the lines highlighed in the video here.) "We are teaching the machine." "Each time we forge a link" "we teach it an idea." "Think of 100 million times per day humans clocking on a web page." "Teaching the machine." "The machine is us... The web is linking people."

" Web 2.0 is linking people...
... people sharing, trading, and collaborating..."

And the video finishes with a few new ideas.

"We will need to rethink a few things...
- copyright
- authorship
- identity
- ethics
- aesthetics
- governance
- privacy
- commerce
- love
- family
- ourselves"

I hope you take a look and are as inspired as I am by the conversation this 4 minute piece of video will allow us to have with those around us. How rich can we make our conversations with the tools we have available to us today? I can't wait to find out!


Sharon Eilts said...

Wow, what a perfect way to represent what many find incomprehensible.

Sharon Eilts

Jose said...

This presentation is amazing that I have to review it again and still be amazed.
Does it mean it increases democratic space? freedom to express one's opinion?

Jose L. Leonidas, Philippines

jdittrich said...

In the video, when he lists all the things that need to be rethought, he mentions "rhetorics". What do you think this means?