Thursday, October 17, 2013

Web 2.0

The planet is moving at light speed on the World Wide Web: now that I am using Twitter to network with other EdTech-Evangelists, who's collective mission seems to be to flood cyberspace with information about the usefulness of cyberspace, I just can't seem to exit the information super highway!

It is like trying to take a sip of water from a fire hose.

If you only check Twitter, Facebook or Google+ once a day, there becomes a backlog of incredibly useful articles and information - each piece of information shared, tweeted, or posted by a Hunter & Gatherer of TechTidbits. As overwhelming as it can be, it is also the most amazing resource imaginable.

While getting into this groove of daily article consumption I have discovered what I believe to be the meaning and origin of Web 2.0:

When Alexander Graham Bell first muttered the words, "Watson Come in Here," into the handheld telephone transmitter, both he and Watson knew they were on to something.  Fast forward about a hundred years when some Graham Bell styled hipster in 1969 keyed a series of binary coded ones and zeros into a green screened computer terminal and somewhere on the other side of town the word "hello" appeared: the internet was born.

This was it, right? The internet. This was going to be the place that created an open stream of information to the masses. All were truly going to be created equal. This was finally the answer that we had all hoped television would have been.

When the first TV hit the market, screams of educational purposes were dreamed from the rooftops of educational building, but alas, the TV, which was to replace the commercial filled newspapers and magazines only became a moving picture version of their news print predecessors.

TV became the live stream version of corporations telling people they were too this or too that, and that to become these or those, you need to buy ours, not theirs. 

TV never met its informational or educational potential. Poor TV sold out to the commercial, like a young brightened starlet who made her way to Hollywood, TV has all but lost her luster.

The information super highway was the next top model down the runway and with online entertainment the old-school, wall mounted 56" flat screen is being replaced by the snack size iPad Mini, a set of earbuds and a Hulu subscription. 

Hulu, Pandora, anything Amazon, they all positioned to replace the jumbo-tron in the middle of your living room and remove the fight over the remote to allow every member of your family an individual platform to consume their personalized programming. This was Web 1.0. Just a supplanting of something that had come before it, a slight tweak on the original but no revolution, evolution or new solution to the stream of information we've consumed since Gutenburg started the mass media blitz.

With so many failed attempts at creating a perfect platform to educate the masses, it was a wonder that Web 2.0 ever made it past its infancy. In fact, it is simply by accident that we have this amazing resource as it stands: the entire platform seems to have spawned not from educators molding the minds of teens but instead the habits of teens have been co-opted by professionals.

Teens have always needed a way to display their individuality to as many other teens as possible: the hot rod, the touchdown dance and the mohawk are all old school originals of teens seeking attention. When social media was born, it was like a match made in heaven: a universe of immediate gratification and self promotion. Social media like MySpace, then Facebook, now Twitter, etc. are the birthplace of Web 2.0.

A place on the internet where ideas are not attached to consumer ads but constructed by and consumed by users. User generated material is at the heart of the Web 2.0 platform. First it was simply teens generating opportunities for praise and since the grownups have caught on, the Twittershere, Google+ and the entire BlogUtopia has become an incredibly rich garden of professional development all ripe for the wandering professional. Web 2.0 allows teachers to teach each other, professionals to share their thoughts devoid of an agenda that is tied to a single advertising dollar.

This is finally the shout from the rooftop educational opportunity we have been waiting for since the dawn of the first cave drawing was copied to a scroll and shared with the next tribe. Web 2.0: Created by teens to show off their mohawks but co-opted by professionals to share their experiences dealing with teens.

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