[iDC] Against Web 2.0

juha huuskonen juhuu at juhuu.nu
Sat May 27 16:29:34 EDT 2006

Hello everyone,

Here is my contribution to the buzzword business -

For the past two years, the theme of Pixelache festival
(www.pixelache.ac) has been 'Dot Org Boom', referring
to the same development as Web 2.0 but from a different
perspective. 'Dot Org Boom' is proposing that the current
wave of development is heading to non-profit direction,
something that Web 2.0 promoters would probably not
want to agree with.

I came across the term in a book called 'How to change
the world' by David Bornstein (www.howtochangetheworld.org).
The title is cheesy and so is the book cover, but the content
is pretty relevant and well written... The book is introducing
social entrepreneurs from around the world and mostly
focusing on the activities of Ashoka Foundation (www.ashoka.org)
who have managed to figure out a very successful method for
supporting the growth of small grassroot initiatives. In the
book the term 'dot org boom' is referring to the fact that the
amount of NGOs in the world has increased dramatically
during the past 10-15 years (millions of new NGOs).

Our version of Dot Org Boom consisted of independent media,
open source community and NGOs. Considering the fact that
all these three areas share the same basic principles - open,
non-profit activities based on volunteer contributions and
grassroot organisations - it's striking how little collaboration there
has been between these areas. The tactical media/indymedia/activist
networks used to be very different from the sourceforge/slashdot/geek
camp and the NGOs were mostly left out of the loop, happily
using their Microsoft tools. What I find essential in the Dot
Org Boom is that these three components - open content,
open tools, open organisation models - are starting to find
each other. Web 2.0 people would like to ignore the organisation
component of this transformation.

We didn't have a chance to dig very deep into Dot Org Boom
in the context of the festival but we managed to bring together
a pretty interesting bunch of people. You can find more
information and download the festival catalogue at 

Some topics that appeared in the discussions were: trust,
security, credibility and monopolies. It seems essential for an
organisation/service/tool to maintain their image as the 'good guys',
something that might become increasingly difficult for commercial
services in future. One complex and important issue seems to be
how to deal with monopolies, both in the case of commercial
services like Google but also for projects like Wikipedia. The
magic role of the 'benevolent dictators' like Jimbo Wales for
Wikipedia or Linus Thorvarlds for Linux does not seem like
a lasting solution.



.: juhuu at juhuu.nu :: www.juhuu.nu :: www.pixelache.ac :.

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Saul Albert" <saul at theps.net>
To: "Eric Kluitenberg" <epk at xs4all.nl>
Cc: "IDC list" <idc at bbs.thing.net>
Sent: Saturday, May 27, 2006 3:35 PM
Subject: Re: [iDC] Against Web 2.0

> On Sat, May 27, 2006 at 01:27:47PM +0200, Eric Kluitenberg wrote:
> Hi Eric,
>> actually my first posting on this list...
> Ha. Welcome to the buzzword-blender of the academic vanguard.
>> >being annoyed by these facts obscures the real fact that the web  2.0
>> >or podcast movements (or whatever you want to call it) actually  are
>> >achieving what many of us have been hoping for - ie. dropping the
>> >threshold for content  production and converting content consumers
>> >into content producers
>> >
>> >isnn't complaining about whether its new or not beside the point?
>> Good point Adam. However, I could imagine one direction where the
>> notion could be usefull. You always need buzzwords to explain things
>> to people not part of the phenomenon you are trying to promote /
>> develop. Web 2.0 could be a good buzzword (or "tenporary general
>> denominator" with a suffciently high "vagueness coefficient") to sell
>> social software projects to funders. That would be more than welcome
>> since they do not buy into the open source / open content story
>> anymore (or never did in the first place).
> Selling it to funders? To what end?
> As far as I can tell, Web 2.0 is to social software what Open Source was
> to Free Software - but it's not just about marketing terminology.
> Social software - not that I'm a big propagator of that spuzzword... at
> least admitted it was software, and came with this open content / open
> source baggage which I think was taken as read. Web 2.0 has nothing to do
> with those petty annoyances.
> Yes, you can sell it to funders, to VCs, and to people who, in the case
> of a few successful systems will exchange their attention and
> participation and the aggregate values thereof in exchange for the
> utility of those systems.
> There is nothing wrong with this as a business proposition if you can
> maintain the delicate balance of my needs against the imperatives of
> funders and advertisers (difficult - as we learned in the 90's once
> you've taken VC money). The problem is that we're not going to build
> anything new with these systems because they don't propose structures of
> value on which we can build anything more than that balance.
> I thought del.icio.us had a chance to supersede (kill) Google with a
> bottom-up public knowledge infrastructure at some point immediately
> before it got bought.  It's kind of dead in the water now as far as I can
> tell.  If it had just offered its users the same deal - 'yahoo offered me
> $$$, can you lot match it with voluntary subscriptions', I think maybe
> we'd be there now.
> cheers,
> Saul.
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