Web 2.0: Culture, Belief System, or Tool-Kit?
Part of the issue with the emergence of Web 2.0, and the reactions to, for, and against it, may be that everyone is working with their own definitions. Advocates are often passionate about it, urging immediate and unilateral adoption. Skeptics raise a litany of questions and objections. Those, in the middle may find themselves in the role of the ball in a ping-pong game, smashed this way, only to be backhanded in the opposite direction.
Just what is Web 2.0, and will it be surpassed by Web Y.0 or Web Z.0 by the time this article hits the air?
Is Web 2.0 a culture--a way of life? If you think you know what culture is (and is not) and can define it, I challenge you to visit the Wikipedia definition of culture: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Culture
There are many competing theories of culture and many diverse perspectives that are held by anthropologists (who commonly use the term "culture" to refer to the universal human capacity to classify, codify, and communicate their experiences symbolically). primatologists (who have identified aspects of culture among humankind's closest relatives in the animal kingdom), archaeologists (who focus on material culture--the material remains of human activity), social anthropologists (who focus on social interactions, statuses and institutions), and cultural anthropologists (who focus on norms and values).
According to the current (2/9/08) Wikipedia definition, â€œCulture can be defined as all the behaviors, ways of life, arts, beliefs and institutions of a population that are passed down from generation to generation. Culture has been called "the way of life for an entire society.â€ As such, it includes codes of manners, dress, language, religion, rituals, norms of behavior such as law and morality, and systems of belief as well as the arts and gastronomy.â€
So is Web 2.0 a culture? It certainly manifests certain behaviors, even ways of life and beliefs. It has hardly been passed down from generation to generation. Given the short life cycle of technology, it is highly likely to be surpassed by Web 3.0, or something else, in a very short period, just as Web 1.0 has been eclipsed.
Is Web 2.0 a belief system? Wikipedia defines belief as: â€œBelief is the psychological state in which an individual holds a proposition or premise (argument) to be true without necessarily being able to adequately prove its main contention to other people who may or may not agree.â€ Based on the ardent writing of those who advocate Web 2.0, we may certainly say that Web 2.0 is strongly held belief system.
The fact that much of the writing in support of Web 2.0 (at least that I have seen) has not yet focused convincingly on either â€œhowâ€ best to use Web 2.0 (a distinctive value-producing strategy), nor the likely outcomes (results that may be achieved through successful use of Web 2.0), does not diminish the passionate belief of the early adopters of Web 2.0. The fact that early adopters have little patience with those who ask for more quantifiable data further reinforces the view that Web 2.0 is, indeed, a belief system.
There is another possibility: that Web 2.0 (and the predictable successors) is simply a tool-kit, full of different tools for different users for different purposes. That is, Web 2.0 is not the desired end-solution; it is a means to the endâ€”however defined for a particular user of Web 2.0
For example, is a wiki or a blog a culture, belief system, or tools in the tool bag? Oneâ€™s perspective depends on where one stands, of course, but there is no denying that if knowledge growth and exchange of knowledge are the desired solutions, then a wiki and/or a blog may be useful tools, correctly and intelligently employed. At least today. Who can say what may be more effective tools to achieve these results tomorrow? Nevertheless, there will surely be newer and more effective tools to come.
Even the best and most appropriate tool for a task, however, still requires good experience and judgment for successful use. Ever watched a first-timer try to install cove molding with a compound miter saw?
Web 2.0: culture, belief system, or tool-kit? Where do you stand and what is your perspective?