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Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Web2.0, The Shift & Glocalization

Danah Boyd, Researcher at Yahoo Reasearch has an excellent perspective on Web 2.0 & Glocalisation. Excerptswith edits & comments:
Web2.0 seen as a platform, looks awfully fuzzy. Technologists and designers have differing views focused on either the technology and standards or the experience. Buzzwords associated with Web2.0 include: remix, tagging, hackability, social networks, open APIs, microcontent, personalization - the web is moving from a read-only system to a read/write system and they focus on technologies like GreaseMonkey, Ajax, RSS/Atom, Ruby on Rails. Glocalization seems to be the reason for Web 2.0’S increasing relevance. During the boom, there was a rush to get everything and everyone online. It was about creating a global village. Yet, packing everyone into the town square is utter chaos. People have different needs, different goals. People manipulate given structures to meet their desires. We are faced with a digital environment that has collective values. A global village assumes heterogeneous context and a hierarchical search assumes universals. While the global village provides innumerable resources and the possibility to connect to anyone, people narrow their attention to only focus on the things that matter. What matters is conceptually "local." Web1.0 created the infrastructure for glocalized networks. Glocalized structures and networks are the backbone of Web2.0
In the techno-social systems that are being developed to allow for glocalized information access, there are institutional structures at play. The structure of companies is also critical to Web2.0 and there is going to be an interesting relationship between innovative start-ups and big corporations
. Startups can focus on particular technologies and build for specific cultural contexts, but they do not have the resources to build the larger infrastructure. This is where big companies come into play because they will be the ones putting the pieces together. Yet, the responsibility of big Web2.0 companies is to provide flexible glue to all of this innovation, to provide the information infrastructure that will permit glocalization, to allow for openness. Big companies span multiple cultural contexts but if they try to homogenize across them, they will fail at Web2.0. They need to be stretchy glue not cement. Cement works when you want a global village, when you want universals but it is not the way of Web2.0, it is not the next wave. Technology and experience are both critical factors in web 2.o, but they are not everything.. I totally agree that Web2.0 is a structural shift in information flow. It is not simply about global->local or 1->many; it is about a constantly shifting, multi-directional complex flow of information with the information evolving as it flows. It is about new network structures that emerge out of global and local structures. Web2.0 requires giving up control and ownership of information; information is meaningless to someone else if they can't repurpose it to make sense of it in their context. For Web2.0 to be successful, technology and policy must follow glocalized needs and desires, but primariy focussed on people needs. Otherwise, Web2.0 runs the risk of ccompletely collapse or simply become a tool for the maintenance of structural power.

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