[iDC] Against Web 2.0

Joshua Levy joshualev at gmail.com
Sat May 27 00:46:32 EDT 2006

I second Trebor's criticism of the Web 2.0, and I think that the
promoters of the term have been disingenously pushing the "social"
nature of these applications to help de-emphasize the for-profit
nature of their various enterprises.  But while many of us on this
list have been aware of "sociable web media" for some time, and have
always viewed the Internet as a tool for social connection (I remember
my joy at experiencing the early bulletin boards before the web
existed), the non-early adopters have only realized the social
potential of the Internet over the last couple of years.  I still meet
people that do not know what blogs are and view the web as nothing but
a tool of convenience.

Despite the lip service the Web 2.0 promo machine sometimes pays to
democratic participation, and despite the fact that the ideas behind
blogging, wikis, and social networking have existed in some form since
before the web was invented, it will take more Flickrs and Wikipedias
-- services that are easy to use and understand for non-techies -- to
convince the mass audience of the web's social useability.  Email
became the tool that it is only after it became available via http,
using a GUI.

I agree with Alex that the wide-scale emergence of user participation
and creation across the web has a re-structuring and decentralizing
effect.   It's interesting to think that no other mass medium has
actually given more and more power to communities as it has grown.
But if the dystopian, McChesney-inspired fear of corporate dominance
is real, shouldn't we, as users and advocates for an open web, make it
our task to promote the good trends that the Web 2.0 might bring to
all users of the Internet?

On 5/26/06, David Golumbia <dg6n at unix.mail.virginia.edu> wrote:
> I just want to echo Trebor's comments--I've been waiting for someone to
> call this BS for what it is, more marketing-speak that helps us to ignore the
> cultural politics of what is happening before our eyes.
> To begin with, it should really be "Web 3.0," or maybe "Web 1.0 version
> 2," since what we are really talking about is just letting the web do the
> things that it seemed to be on the way of doing, prior to the 1996
> commercial deregulation that should never, ever have happened. In my view,
> "Web 2.0" is what happened when money was let loose to overwhelm all other
> purposes of what had been, till then, the largest noncommercial media
> project in human history (maybe now that's Wikipedia). That "Web 2.0" puts
> commerce first, people second, almost all the time. All the places where
> the web is exploding, it is commerce, not political democracy, that also
> seem to be exploding. (or did the US have a wonderful social revolution in
> the last 10 years, fueled by the Internet, that I missed while we edge our
> way as close toward totalitarianism as we have ever been?)
> Money isn't always bad, and hasn't done only bad things, but I would be
> holding out much more hope for the internet as even a constructive
> contributor to democratic change if it was much more like it was prior to
> commercial deregulation--and very little I see in the current so-called
> "2.0 technologies" seem like anything but much more of the same. And to
> bring in its wake the same old apologists who are dying to tell us this
> one technology is going to change everything. Sociopolitical change
> requires sociopolitical thought and action. I have yet to see any concrete
> reason to believe the Internet pushes people more toward sociopolitical
> engagement: in fact, I see plenty of reason to doubt it.
> David
> --
> David Golumbia
> Assistant Professor
> Media Studies, English, and Linguistics
> University of Virginia
> _______________________________________________
> iDC -- mailing list of the Institute for Distributed Creativity (distributedcreativity.org)
> iDC at bbs.thing.net
> http://mailman.thing.net/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/idc
> List Archive:
> http://mailman.thing.net/pipermail/idc/


On 5/26/06, Trebor Scholz <trebor at thing.net> wrote:
> David Weinberger, blogging philosopher and author of ³Small Pieces
> Loosely Joined² said in a recent interview:
> ³some of the talk about Web 2.0 makes me want to point back to Clue
> Train Manifesto. The only part of the Web 2.0 stuff that I have a
> reaction to is when Web 2.0 people say- now at last the Web is for users
> and users have a voice. And I want to say: NO, back from the very
> beginning what drove people onto the net was not so that people can shop
> at Amazon. Weblogs and all that have made it way, way easier but the Web
> has always been about voice and conversation."
> <http://www.whak.com/off/?202>
> I agree. Online sociality is old: It goes back to the beginnings of the
> Internet. You don't have to be a media historian to understand that.
> Online sociality is new: It has reached a new level of participation, in
> some cases even interaction. Today, sociality online is empowered by
> easier-to-use tools, broader access to bandwidth and technology as well
> as a deeper familiarity with the tools.
> When I first came to the United States, I met Annette Michelson,
> professor for cinema studies, in her New York University office. She
> asked me why I decided to move to the US. A bit tongue-in-cheek, I
> responded that I did not come for the American Dream. I remember it like
> today: her eyes turned dark, then a moment of silence, ... then she
> raised her voice: "Don't you even MENTION the American Dream
> to me. It does not exist."
> Russell Shaw's in his recent Zdnet article "Web 2.0? It does not exist"
> does not argue that Web 2.0 does not exist just like Michelson surely
> did not doubt that there are people who follow the American Dream.
> Russell Shaw just turns his back to the suggestion that there is a
> rebirth of the Web.
> <http://blogs.zdnet.com/ip-telephony/?p=805>
> Wikipedia states about Web 2.0 as "a social phenomenon referring to an
> approach to creating and distributing Web content itself, characterized
> by open communication, decentralization of authority, freedom to share
> and re-use." The encyclopedia continues by characterizing Web 2.0 as "a
> more organized and categorized content, with a more developed
> deep-linking web architecture." They also refer to a "shift in economic
> value of the web, potentially equaling that of the dot com boom of the
> late 1990s." The term Web 2.0 is yet another fraudulent bubble designed
> to trick investors with pretended newness. It's just like McDonald's
> re-stacking their greasy beef layers to sell an entirely new product
> every 6 month. I'm not at all suggesting, however, that the phenomenon
> behind the term Web 2.0 is corrupt.
> <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Web_2.0>
> The term is attributed to corporate "futureneer" Tim O'Reilly who
> convened a Web 2.0 Conference in 2005. (White male faces dominated this
> conference just like other O¹Reilly events.) The Wikipedia DEF for the
> term Web 2.0 links it to what some people see as a second phase of
> development of the World Wide Web.
> <http://www.whak.com/off/?203>
> <http://www.web2con.com/>
> Other terms kicking around include groupware and the term social
> software that was mainly used in the early 1990s. It stood for people
> connecting or collaborating through networked communication
> technologies.
> Howard Rheingold referred to sociable web media as
> ³cooperation-enhancing technologies.² Cooperation, in contrast, is a
> less intensive form of working together in which participants account
> for gain or loss individually. Contributors have individual goals. While
> collaboration is a risky, intensive form of working together with a
> common goal. The gain or loss is shared among all. The term sociable web
> media is surrounded by this discourse. Edward Barrett, lecturer in the
> MIT Writing Program introduced the term "sociomedia" in the book of the
> same title. Judith Donath wrote on Sociable Media for The Encyclopedia
> of Human-Computer Interaction.
> <http://smg.media.mit.edu/>
> <http://www.whak.com/off/?204>
> <http://smg.media.mit.edu/papers/Donath/SociableMedia.encyclopedia.pdf>
> The term "sociable media" is used by the MIT Sociable Media Group, for
> example. They define ³sociable media² as engagement with issues of
> identity and society in a networked society. "Sociable," for me, means
> approachable. Webster defines "sociable" as " a) being inclined to seek
> or enjoy companionship and b) marked by or conducive to friendliness or
> pleasant social relations." A sociable online environment is open to
> contributions. But that does not mean that it is social, that is has a
> community of participants. Opening a room does not mean that people will
> come to party. "Sociable" alludes to the possibility of sociality. I use
> the term sociable web media.
> Next time you hear Web 2.0 feel the sour aftertaste.
> References:
> _______________________________________________
> iDC -- mailing list of the Institute for Distributed Creativity (distributedcreativity.org)
> iDC at bbs.thing.net
> http://mailman.thing.net/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/idc
> List Archive:
> http://mailman.thing.net/pipermail/idc/


More information about the iDC mailing list