Thursday, March 22, 2007

Commentary: Web 2.0...Here We Go Again...

I was discussing technology changes with colleagues the other day, and one asked me about Web 2.0, which came up during a conference presentation. I was asked, as computer person and charter member of the Blogosphere, if I knew anything about it. I did, in general terms, but Wikipedia gives this as a definition:

Web 2.0 is a category of new Internet tools and technologies created around the idea that the people who consume media, access the Internet, and use the Web shouldn't passively absorb what's available; rather, they should be active contributors, helping customize media and technology for their own purposes, as well as those of their communities.
But Web 2.0 isn't just the latest set of toys for geeks, it's the beginning of a new era in technology — one that promises to help nonprofits operate more efficiently, generate more funding, and affect more lives.
These new tools include, but are by no means limited to, blogs, social networking applications, RSS, social networking tools, and wikis.

Web 2.0 is not a new 'thing' but more of a re-purpose of the WWW (world wide web). As usual, there is a flurry of new terms to deal with, including what I consider the underlying definitions of Web 2.0. We have all gotten used to the idea of updated versions of previous computer applications. If there is a software application version 1.0, 1.3 or 2.0 is not usually far behind. In Web 2.0, it is not a new Web that is referenced, but rather a taxonomy or classification for the Web. The newly-coined word that I prefer is actually 'folksonomies', which are defined by Wikipedia as:

"A folksonomy is a user generated taxonomy used to categorize and retrieve Web pages, photographs, Web links and other web content using open ended labels called tags. Typically, folksonomies are Internet-based, but their use may occur in other contexts as well. The process of folksonomic tagging is intended to make a body of information increasingly easier to search, discover, and navigate over time. A well-developed folksonomy is ideally accessible as a shared vocabulary that is both originated by, and familiar to, its primary users.
Folksonomy creation and searching tools are not part of the underlying World Wide Web protocols. Folksonomies arise in Web-based communities where special provisions are made at the site level for creating and using tags. These communities are established to enable Web users to label and share user-generated content, such as photographs, or to collaboratively label existing content, such as Web sites, books, works in the scientific and scholarly literatures, and blog entries."

Finding the correct words to conduct a search can be difficult. Folksonomies would be things like the labels attached to blog posts, archived posts, or the tags added to Wiki pages. These searching tools are a necessary add-on to making the overwhelming amount of information on the WWW useful. A Blog such as this one, which pulls targeted sites from the Web, helps to harness the information to allow users to find it more quickly and easily, and also fits the folksonomy definition.

As with most things tech related, there is a question of definition. Every dictionary in the world is outdated within hours of publication, because our language is even more fluid now than when dictionaries were developed. We not only have languages, but also what can be called sub-languages, such as text messaging formats. Most people have probably heard someone use 'SWAK' (sealed with a kiss) or TGIF (thank goodness it's Friday) or even ASAP (as soon as possible), but now there is an entire communication form called text messaging that has brought us things such as LOL (laugh out loud) and BTW (by the way) If you are a true TM (text message) afficionado, you might also know that @TEOTD is at the end of the day, or 2G2BT is too good to be true. And if you have kids, you should also know that PRW means parents are watching.

So if you don't know about all things techie, you can either rent a teen or read this Blog...I'll do what I can to keep you updated PDQ (pretty darn quick). And YW (you're welcome).

"I Blog...therefore I Web 2.0" : updated Descartes 'Discourse on Method'