Web 2.0… really?

by Media Two on April 3, 2008

in Social Media

I first heard of the internets when I was in college, around 1995. At first I ignored all the hype as I was just too cool to find anything “cool”. All the students I had seen in the school library were looking at professional wrestling pages, This is the south after all and it was important to know what the Nature Boy Rick Flair was planning. Thank goodness the 4 horsemen had long since retired.

Fast forward a few short years later and the dot com boom is in full effect. I started working with computers creating short animations, recording lectures and working with Real Player. I remember the hype of this new medium and the mantra was “everyone can create a web page”. While this was true for a select few, the only “people” who could really take advantage of this new format were corporations who could afford to employ the army of people to code HTML (keep in mind HTML was cutting edge technology in 1998). Dreamweaver and other HTML editors were not user friendly and you had to know how to code javascript by hand to accomplish anything “cool” like an animated .gif. Money was thrown around and given to anyone who could code a hyper link and those people spent the money on launch parties for sites that had yet to be completed. Of course, most of these sites never got completed and the industry went bust. Web 1.0 was built on a promise that was more a sales pitch then a reality of the medium. Slowly though, the web evolved and an industry matured eventually delivering on that promise.

Now, when I turn on the news or surf the net, I hear a new buzz word.. Web 2.0. This time, it’s all about social networking. But really… isn’t this just what the initial Web 1.0 promised us? Finally now, everyone CAN make a webpage and they do on MySpace and Facebook. You don’t really need to know much code and you can “pimp” your page, with a little effort, express your personal style and actually fulfill the promises of Web 1.0. Today MySpace has even beaten the original web pioneer Yahoo! in popularity, blogs have truly taken hold and everyone can easily customize a personal corner on the web to share their life experiences with friends, family and the random web surfers who might have a pregnant wife or chocolate lab mix who obsessively chases his tail. It took a little more then 10 years, but web 1.0 has arrived… finally.

So what is Web 2.0? According to Wikipedia, web 2.0 is “web-based communities and hosted services, such as social-networking sites, wikis, and blogs”. Isn’t that already here? Isn’t this just what we were promised the first time around? Is Web 2.0 nothing more then an industry invented term to create a new buzz? What does the future bring for the real web 2.0 or 3.0?

The main difference I see between the realities of web 1.0 and the promises of web 2.0 is streaming video. Video is, at its core, a series of 30 images per second, just like an animated .gif. The first animated .gif, sent over the web in January 1995, sounded the opening bell of the first dot com boom and I hear those sirens singing again with video as their tune. Just like the .gif fueled web 1.0, video might drive this next online economic boom, but it’s not in the hands of the public… yet. If you look closely, most of this new content is powered by corporate America, driven by the industry and consumed by the public. This mirrors most industries in America and throughout the world, so it’s not surprising. But as the public becomes more empowered by technology and connected to one another, change is bound to happen and quicker then ever. As future generations age while being connected with each other and highly mobile (along with the popularity of the consumer camcorder, cell phone cameras and websites and blogging) little brother is watching Big Brother and that’s something no one expected, not even George Orwell. Maybe web 3.0 will usher in greater freedoms for everyone through government and corporate transparency. No longer can China squash peaceful protests with violence or American policebeat suspects without us seeing. No longer can a radical preachers preach hate or a news anchor melt down without us seeing. Perhaps this is the real web 2.0… the world looking at itself truly creating a global community. Perhaps the revolution is here.

According to Wiki, Guerrilla warfare is “unconventional warfare … with which a small group of combatants use mobile tactics… to combat a larger, less mobile formal army.”

The internet is dead… long live the internet!

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