In an article at The Register, William Davies questions the economics of the Web 2.0. Some excerpts:
Of course many-to-many communication precedes even the internet we
know today. Email mailing lists and message boards were features of the
first Bulletin Board Systems (BBS), and migrated to the internet. They
are both examples of individuals grouping together in a self-organising
What has changed is that these otherwise secluded and organic realms
of social interaction are now the focus of obsessive technological
innovation and commercial interest. The same technological zeal and
business acumen that once was applied to improving the way we buy a
book or pay our car tax is now being applied to the way we engage in
social and cultural activities with others.
In short, efficiency gains are no longer being sought only in
economic realms such as retail or public services, but are now being
pursued in parts of our everyday lives where previously they hadn’t
even been imagined. Web 2.0 promises to offer us ways of improving
the processes by which we find new music, new friends, or new civic
causes. The hassle of undesirable content or people is easier to cut
out. We have become consumers of our own social and cultural lives.
Undoubtedly there are instances where we do want our social
lives to be more efficient. Organising a party can be time-consuming
and tedious, and the fact that Facebook now makes this vastly easier is
scarcely going to harm the atmosphere of the party.
But we should worry about this psychology seeping too far into our
lives. What if there were an application that could make it easier to
pass on my love to a family-member? What if I no longer needed to read
books in order to cite them, but could search the quotes other people
had extracted from them?
The irony is that Web 2.0 has been heralded as the dawn of a new era
of community and togetherness. Through the financial eyes of a venture
capitalist, this may appear to be true. For the rest of us, what this
means is that community is now available to manipulate, choose and
Link: The cold, cold heart of Web 2.0 (The Register),
via Putting People First.
William Davies has a blog: Potlatch.
I have ventured onto the social web sites a little (if you search hard you may find me, and I welcome your befriendsterness or whatever the kids call it), though few of these sites work for me because I’m just not very social. I have, however, recently become enamored of LibraryThing because I’m good at collecting and befriending books (my profile).