This blog post is the introduction to a lecture on Publishing and Web 2.0 I am delivering to students on the Digital Humanities MA, and is partly intended as a venue for online discussion in the comments section. All are welcome to join in the discussion.
When I posted the question, “What is Web 2.0?” on Twitter at the weekend, the first reply was from @espenore, who wrote:
A buzzword 10 years ago :-)
Leading me to muse:
Does this mean that 2004’s “Web 2.0” is 2010’s “The Web”?
More seriously, most online definitions of Web 2.0 focus on the dynamic nature of Web content:
“The second generation of the World Wide Web, especially the movement away from static webpages to dynamic and shareable content and social networking”
“Web 2.0 does not refer to any specific change in the technology of the Internet, but rather the behavior of how people use the Internet”
“Le web 2.0 se caractérise principalement par la prise de pouvoir des internautes”
The idea that the Web is not controlled by a top-down, monolithic publishing industry, but an organic, uncontrolled, intelligent network authored and edited by all users is a powerful one. (On of the nicest descriptions of this is The Machine is Us/ing Us .) There is a lot of monolithic content on the Web, of course, and this is sometimes among the more professional and reliable material out there, but almost every web search returns pages from Wikipedia and blogs high in the results list.
It has become the norm to see the Web as a place to post content, to add comments, to correct errors and omissions (or introduce errors and misinformation). Obviously, this is no longer about new technology or tools; all this dynamic functionality has been around for a long time (in Internet terms) and is both the norm and visible on the vast majority of the Web, so the rhetoric of “version 2.0” is broken. Rather it is a subset of the kind of activity that takes place on the Web: leaving comments rather than just reading news; editing rather than just reading Wikipedia; reviewing rather than just buying books; even searching the Web with cookies enabled.
In this lecture we’re going to discuss the implications of this dynamic and semantic Web on publishing, and especially academic output. We’ll look at a few examples of blogs (The Stoa Consortium, AH Net, DH Now), wikis (Digiclass, Academic Publishing, Uncyclopedia), and talk about the kinds of scholarly activities that are appropriate to publishing in these media.
Watch the comments to see how convincing this all turned out to be.