Saturday, April 05, 2008

web2.0 introspection


We are now seeing some agonised introspection about the decline of the level of conversation in web2.0 land

Conversation and Circumstance Graham Wegner
The Map is not the territory: the changing face of the edublogosphere by Doug Belshaw

I see this as phase 4 of an inevitable process:
1) web2.0 arrives, declares itself to be revolutionary (evangelism)
2) it is commercialised, from the beginning in this case
3) as it scales it dilutes (see alan kay quote below)
4) gnashing of twitters and wailing from keyboards

The basic problem here was the lack of analysis and historical awareness from the start. A similar thing has already happened with the PC revolution in society and the logo revolution in schools. They were and remain substantial and yet to be fulfilled revolutions.

A study of modernity reveals that as things develop they undermine themselves in the process of their own development. Anything that does not critically examine itself with awareness will become a caricature of its own grandiose pretensions. I recommend this book: All that is solid melts into air by Marshall Berman

Alan Kay made a relevant observation about the commercialisation of the PC way before the time that the web was invented:
Computing spread out much, much faster than educating unsophisticated people can happen. In the last 25 years or so, we actually got something like a pop culture, similar to what happened when television came on the scene and some of its inventors thought it would be a way of getting Shakespeare to the masses. But they forgot that you have to be more sophisticated and have more perspective to understand Shakespeare. What television was able to do was to capture people as they were. So I think the lack of a real computer science today, and the lack of real software engineering today, is partly due to this pop culture.
Marx observed:
"history repeats itself; first time as tragedy, second time as farce"

related:
some thoughts about prof Stephen Heppell's VITTA keynote
the problem of living in the present
expertise and historical perspective
conversation and expertise in a flat but wrinkled world

2 comments:

Tony Forster said...

Design based research may give insight into the problems with Logo
http://edutechwiki.unige.ch/en/Design-based_research

THe idea is that standard predictive research leaves the practitioners out of the loop. Its nice to have a good theory and good exemplars of teaching practice but it is important to see how ordinary teachers will use the theory and exemplars and then adjust them till you get the result.

None of which is relevant to your main point of unplanned growth in web2

Mark Miller said...

It's my understanding from reading a bit about what Web 2.0 "means" is that it's about building social interaction. The way the thinking goes is that Web 1.0 was about "pushing" content, information, and allowing ratings and reviews of finished products (Amazon.com, IMDB). Web 2.0 is about stuff like blogs, where amateurs can create a dialogue, a space for conversations. So it was never about creating a "computer revolution". Both phases were about expanding the reach of information, and dialogue. I think they can add something to the mix that's valuable. It's all in how it's used. In conversations I've had with Alan Kay he has a very low opinion of the whole Web 2.0 thing, saying that the medium just allows people to say whatever they want whether it has any intellectual merit or not, and it makes it difficult to find information that's truly valuable.

I haven't used Twitter, but have heard of it. From what I understand it's the web version of instant messaging, or "texting" that you can do on cell phones, except you're broadcasting your messages to whoever subscribes to your feed. It's all about "here's what I'm doing now". It's all about the present, not about a narrative. Twitter goes along with the idea of creating some kind of social interaction, a conversation, though I imagine it's shallow with the focus of a butterfly.