Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Web 2.0 Concepts

Let's talk about Web 2.0.
Yes, granted, everyone is talking about 2.0(some radicals are even talking about Web 3.0).
However, as the principles of Web 2.0 are very fundamental in our future discussion of Learning 2.0 we should have at least a basic understanding what Web 2.0 means.

Wikipedia, states the Web 2.0 is the second generation of the web, primarily based on communities. You can read for yourself and see exactly what that means. Essentially, as Time magazine put it, Web 2.0 is about you. Web 2.0 empowers the user to be heard rather than be herd. It flattens the playing field for anyone and everyone who has access to the internet.

Clearly, any one of you reading this has embraced Web 2.0, at least in part.

Let's take some time to explore a few of the "tools" or mechanisms utilized in Web 2.0.

The Community:
Communities have existed virtually forever. Now, ironically, we can access and participate in them virtually. This basic premise is the foundation of the "new" internet. Users gather in online communities to communicate and collaborate with one another about what is important to them.

The Blog:
You're reading one. That should be enough. Though, if you're bent on learning more, by all means click here.

Blogs are an efficient method by which an individual can communicate thoughts and ideas while generating commentary from the community.

The Forum:
This is one of the older tools used for web based communications. A forum is a site categorized by some interest generally broken down into topics and sub topics where users can post thoughts and/or questions and other users can respond. In general, its an online discussion area.

Forums are very popular today and have been for quite a while. One of the draw backs for forums is user participation. Industry statistics, though I'm pained for a reference, state that about 1- 3 % of the user base will contribute 90% of the content in a forum. One of the challenges of Web 2.0 will be getting everyone to speak out and contribute, not just the small vocal community.

Tagging, which takes on multiple names, meta data, folksonomies, Tag Clouds etc, is primarily a form of data categorization. While all of the above methods either differ in form or delivery, they all accomplish the same goal, albeit with varying degrees of success. They help users find the data they are looking for by using terminology they understand and relate to the data they are attempting to locate.

Some of these constructs are even more Web 2.0 oriented because they are user generated. Specifically, the folksonomy allows users to label data the "way" they would search for it. Other users can then search that data based on how other users "tagged" it. Conceptually, this could be used to synthesis a corporate jargon rather than impose one.

The Wiki:
This is one of the tools or mechanisms that can be uses by multiple used to communicate and collaborate. A wiki is user generated site were any user, with access, can edit the content of the site. Wikipedia is the worlds most prominent example of a wiki. Employing this tool is an incredible way to get users to share and co-develop documents and ideas.

I should note, from personal experience, users can be very reluctant to contribute to wiki content, especially when editing a document they feel another person owns. It can be hard for users to give up control of something but this is what Web 2.0 is really about!

So, if Learning 1.0 is about control, then Learning 2.0 is about releasing that control!

Certainly, the largest percentage of learning occurs informally, whether that occurs peer to peer across a cube wall, over the phone or via the internet. People seek answers to their questions from other people. Learning 2.0 will be an effort to optimize those connections.

In short, Learning 2.0 will be connecting people who need to know with people who know on demand.

Next, concepts leveraging community: An eye on learning.

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