Keeping Up With The Web 2.J0nes’

I’ve been busy … and I notice that when I am busy, my “I’ve gotta blog this!” threshold increases to the point that very few things become “blog-worthy” to me. However, after looking at a recent article in Wired titled “Web 2.0 Cracks Start To Show” and then coming across the comical “Web Two Point Oh!” create-your-own-Web-2.0-company generator, a couple of ideas started to form.

Although I’ve embraced and promoted many of the ideals of Web 2.0, I’ve generally been avoiding the term. I’m not sure why, but I have been. Perhaps, it’s about the rapid change that it causes. Think about it. In the past couple of years I’ve:
– moved from Moveable Type to WordPress, while toying with Drupal, Elgg, Manilla, and using services such as Edublogs, Blogger, …
– shared photos and information on Flickr, Shutterbook, Yahoo 360, Hi5, MySpace …
– tried and adopted social bookmarking services such as, Furl, Spurl, Jots, Memestream, Stumbleupon …
– documented/published my personal library holdings through services such as LibraryThing and Delicious Monster …
– organized my life and data through services such as RememberTheMilk and gDisk …
– participated and setup various Wikis for courses using MediaWiki and PBWiki, as well as participated with online sharing apps such as Writely, Writeboard …
– moved to and from many distros of Linux including Fedora, Suse, Ubuntu, Edubuntu, Knoppix, LiveLamp …
– attempted several recording hacks for recording podcast conversations via Skype with the EdTech Posse
– experimented with soooooo much more … I am sure I have many lost accounts, and failed attempts at social-ness sprawled all over the Web 2.0-osphere.

So yea … I’ve been busy. Has Web 2.0 made my life easier? Definitely not. Only, much more complicated. Does Web 2.0 have the potential to make my life better? Yes, I still think so.

The Wired article reports the potential cracks in Web 2.0, most of the things we already know and cringe about, such as wikispam, splogs, googlebombing, abuse of Google Adsense. The article goes on to blame most of these issues primarily on “human nature, and less with the qualities of bottom-up, online media.” But several other “cracks” come to mind, such as:

Redundant/similar services: I never thought I’d say it, but choice CAN be a bad thing. I think this is sort of what Dean was getting at in one of his latest podcasts, and I have to agree. For instance, I could never commit myself to one social bookmark manager … I’ve tried them all … and for me, because of two many choices, in this case, I’ve also abandoned them all.
Rapid /Redesign: In some cases, just when I get to know a particular program/service, the design changes, or new features emerge.
Keeping Up With The Hacks: In other cases, when the necessary features in a program aren’t available soon enough, someone writes a hack that gives the additionally functionality. This is great, however, trying to keep up with this all can be tough. I’ve long given up trying to keep up with all the Google Maps hacks, for instance.
Updates: Keeping a “Small Pieces Loosely Joined” lifestyle can be difficult when you have to update all of your server-installed components. For instance, I probably have a dozen WordPress blogs which I haven’t fully updated or applied the latest spam filters. Updating software, keeping everything up-to-date, and keeping everything secure is very time-consuming.
Forking: Whether it’s software forking or content forking, the results can be confusing, and frustrating. For instance, we’ve recently adopted Etomite as our in-house web content manager. It’s been good, and we’re happy so far. However, our developers have just recently noticed a fork of Etomite called MODx CMS which may be a solution to some of Etomite’s shortfalls, but still remains light in other areas. So, do we make the migration? And if so, what impact does that make on our developers and users? And of course, who is to say that something entirely better does not come around the corner two minutes later. Change is good, but utterly exhausting to implement and manage.

As I click through the “Web Two Point Oh!” generator I mentioned above, I humour myself in thinking that a lot of these generated terms and companies actually make sense. For me, although Web 2.0 is radically different in it’s approach than it’s predecessor/co-exister, what seems to be familiar is the rapid influx of companies and products, often reminiscent of the dot com era. Will we see the same type of bust in interest, development and revenue? I doubt if, this time, it will be anything close to the previous disaster. However, if anything busts, it may simply break at the level of human interest, cognition and more so, attention.

It’s still interesting to read the article by Goldhaber titled “The Attention Economy and the Net“. In the article, the author posits “Attention, at least the kind we care about, is an intrinsically scarce resource”. He continues, “Information Economy” is inaccurate, and that the Internet economy’s greatest commodity is in fact, attention. With the rapid development that Web 2.0 pushes forth, the many new services/products/forks developed each day, and the the confusion that this may bring, I would have to agree.

Or maybe it’s because I am on “this” side of Web 2.0. I am not simply a user looking for “the good enough” or the “it works” solution. For some reason, I am bent on finding the best-of-breed solutions, the products or services that supercede all … the Ginsu of all tools. Yet, sometimes I long for those days when I simply used what worked … when PowerPoint was simply a tool, and using it was not a contradictory gesture to my position on proprietary software. And I guess that’s the difference. It’s all about perspective, and perhaps those that are the most confused, are simply those who need to be.

3 thoughts on “Keeping Up With The Web 2.J0nes’

  1. Great post about web 2.0. I am surprised to hear that you are saying that it has not made your life easier. In what way? I personally find online social bookmarking a huge time saver. Ok, forget about the social aspect for a second but just keeping my bookmarks organized on is great. Ok, I am biased since I developed the tool but I thought you might like to check it out. If you do, I would love to hear your thoughts. Mike

  2. I just started trying and technorati and my impression so far of “Web 2.0” is: have we really evolved yet? Certainly we’ve got prettier and more elaborate ways of sharing info. But in terms of what we do with the web, we haven’t moved very far from the original digital bulletin boards of the early 90’s have we? Sort of like cars – we’re still using the original internal combustion engine. Just my 2 cents.

    Thanks for your post on my blog! You’re also in my feed reader now!

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