Web 2.0 Puts Reason To Sleep

    June 19, 2007
    WebProNews Staff

Several noteworthy thinkers consider the whole Web 2.0 meme as part of their series of discussions appearing on the Britannica Blog. We’re still waiting for them to talk about Web 2.0.

It’s been suggested in places that defining Web 2.0 is akin to Morpheus’ description of the Matrix in the movie. “No one can be told what the Matrix is,” Laurence Fishburne intoned. “You have to see it for yourself.”

I’m looking today, my first day back from vacation, at the Brittanica Blog and its Web 2.0 Forum. There are a few names there, like Nicholas Carr and Clay Shirky, whose work I always like.

Shirky’s book, The Internet by Email, proved very useful back in the day when I had email at work just as the Net was taking off, thanks to Tim Berners-Lee and the Mosaic crowd. Don’t get me started about dialup modems.

It was very much Web 1.0, even though no one called it that. Web 2.0 is more an invention by Tim O’Reilly and John Battelle for their conference series. It means something as a term. The meaning just happens to be somewhat nebulous.

A Britannica series of well-spoken bloggers discussing Web 2.0 should be educational. I’m catching up on a week of their posts. I’ve learned about Goya and George Dyson and Wordsworth, but not much about Web 2.0.

The common theme of the discussion holds that it may or may not be a good thing that anyone with access to the Internet can post pretty much anything they like. “Old revolutions good, new revolutions bad,” Shirky called it in summary.

Wisdom of the crowds is an oxymoron, to be invested with little trust. People should learn to think more critically. Reasonable statements, but I’m no closer to understanding why this is a Web 2.0 discussion than when I started.

As the series of discussions continue on the Britannica Blog, I’m going to request that the highly educated minds participating on it do something they haven’t accomplished yet. Build a foundation for Web 2.0, for discussing it, and create on top of that.

“We get the God we deserve,” Carr said of the spread of computer technology as a harbinger of change. I’d like to understand what Web 2.0 is first before getting anything I might deserve.