Thursday, August 17, 2006

Thoughts about Web 2.0

Warning: This post is an attempt to put into words what I have been reading about Web 2.0 in the last few days. I hope that the attempt will make Web 2.0 clearer to me.

My first introduction to the idea of Web 2.0 was Will Richardson's blog(check out the video tab at the top of the his blog). The emphasis, which made sense to me was on the fact that the web has become more interactive. He gave it the descriptive title "the Read/Write Web". While looking at Shambles list of Web 2.0 definition sites, I came across a web site validator that actually has criteria for what a Web 2.0 site is and will evaluate a URL to see if it is Web 2.0. I put my site http://jfriesen.net in and not surprisingly it is NOT Web 2.0. It was more helpful to me to read the outcome list of 30 or so criteria, of which my web page passed three. I did not even know what many of the things were. Some of the things that I knew a little bit about (like Google adsense) were things that I had decided NOT to include.

I then listened to a video of several Silicone Valley CEOs talking about Web 2.0. What I have learned is that
  • No one is really clear on what Web 2.0 actually is, but most agree that there has been a significant change to the web.
  • Corporate interests are behind a lot of the hype as usual, but now small companies are able to compete with large ones.
  • For education what matters is that the 'new version' of the web changes the way we can interact with each other and with the world.
It seems to me that what I decided in 1993 - that technology changes too fast for teachers to keep up without support - is more true than ever. If I have difficulty with understanding the huge changes, what must most busy teachers feel? And yet, how can we allow schools to keep falling further and further behind?

One other thought comes from the experience of blogging from Greece and Turkey. Here in the US I have wireless DSL at home. I can blog or read other blogs anytime I want for as long as I want and it costs the same as NOT reading or writing. In Greece and Turkey I had to go to a special place (Internet Cafe, someone else's office, hotel lobby) and pay about $4 an hour to use the Internet. That totally changed the way I thought about blogging. I always wrote offline (which I actually should do anyway ;-) and I didn't spend much time reading. It reminds me of schools where you have to get the computer (or cart of computers) from down the hall and set it up in order to do anything. When technology is ubiquitous it is easy to be excited about the possibilities, but it is not ubiquitous in most schools.

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