Speaking of Web 2.0

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Alexandre Enkerli

Feb 11, 2007, 12:03:48 AM2/11/07
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Inspired by the thread on Michael Wesch's impressive Web 2.0 video...

Martin Lessard, a non-anthropologist (but fellow Montreal blogger and
YulBlog.org participant) described Web 2.0 as the sixth Internet
"culture," a few months ago.
(We could argue about his notion of "culture" but his analysis seems useful...)

Lessard's entry is in French but is relatively easy to understand.
Following Manuel Castells for "cultures" 2 to 5, Lessard defines six
overlapping phases in terms of the people involved.
1. Military personnel (DARPA)
2. Academics (universities, colleges)
3. Programmers/Coders (Alpha Geeks)
4. Virtual communities (BBS)
5. Entrepreneurs (Web 1.0)
6. "Web 2.0″ (bloggers, social networking, user-generated content…).
Lessard's post was after Business 2.0 named "You" as personality of
the year (in July), but before TIME did the same (in late December).

Personally, I think that the current trend toward "user-gen" goes hand
in hand with OA. Especially if we see OA as a factor of
democratisation in writing (academic or otherwise). This is not to say
that everyone is now creating incredibly popular content or even that
the promise of "social technologies" like podcasting is being
fulfilled. In fact, I tend to see user-gen as much more hierarchical
than the organised anarchy of "online communication circa 1993"
(a.k.a. "The Good Old Days"). But there's something fascinating about
"users taking back the night" in the online world. We often talk about
empowerment. User-gen is where technology does have a possible role to
play in enabling widespread dialogue at a somewhat egalitarian level.
Or it may make the whole world the totalitarian regime distopians have
been conceiving of, in the recent past.
Again, this could be a way to see OA: academics taking control of
their words. Same thing with academic blogging, IMHO.

Or am I just being overenthusiastic about technology, as is my habit?

(Interestingly enough, while writing this post, I find out that
Lessard has already commented on Michael's video.
The world of North American, English-reading people interested in
analysing online communication is a small world indeed!)


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