Friday, February 13, 2009

Are we Human, or are we connected? REDUX


There was a lot of talk that started a while back, and still ongoing, about something called Web 2.0. As soon as I heard that I was thinking, great! Another upgrade that we have to pay for! Turns out, it wasn’t an upgrade, but in reality it’s a redistribution of wealth, in a sense.
See, in the old days of the internet the users, the people who surfed the World Wide Web, were cruisers. Passers-by. It was the big companies and outlets and newspapers and sports sites that ruled the internet. People would check out the websites, and move on to the next website, and then the next, and so on. True, we did bookmark a few websites that we went back to more often than others. The New York Times. ESPN. Yahoo! Hotmail and later Gmail. Of course, many, many others also, that I’m not going to mention them all.
There were other people who were more internet and technology savvy, who hacked other websites! But, not all of them were hackers. Other started experimenting with things like MSN Groups and Geocities, to present themselves to the world. There was an industrious group that started doing something strange. They started writing what was called a web log. Basically, accounts of what they were doing, their thoughts, their aspiration, observations. Any topic they wanted to talk about. And they shared all of those thoughts with the rest of the world, or, anyone who was interested in following those people.
Slowly but surely, that community started growing. The web blog became a blog. Those pioneer bloggers saw their communities grow daily. People became celebrities, just by blogging and having a following on the internet.
There isn’t a watershed moment, probably, that ushered the world into Web 2.0. But what is exactly Web 2.0? It’s social networking. What’s social networking? Good question that I am hardly competent to answer. But, I’ll give it a go! That’s just the kind of person I am!
Social networking, ladies and gentlemen, is your life on the web. Although it’s called social, but it’s beyond that; it’s you socializing with the world. You put yourself out there, literally. You present to the world the essence of you. You share everything. As much, or as little, as you want.
When Web 2.0 was happening, it almost passed me by. I thought it was a fad, that was going to fade! Then something peculiar happened. I changed my job. After spending almost 7 years with the same people at the same job, I moved on to greener pasture. And those people I left behind, some of them, started adding me to something called LinkedIn. I figured what the heck. Why not? I wasn’t going to share my personal email with all the folks that I worked with, and this was a nice, impersonal way to keep in touch, if I felt like it. So I joined up and got the occasional update from those people.
And my network on LinkedIn started growing. All of a sudden, I had more than 100 people connected to me, and growing. I liked that feeling. It made me feel like, hey, I know people! I’m not alone! Webwise, that is!
I wanted more.
LinkedIn didn’t let you do a lot of things with the people in your network. I heard a lot about MySpace. Unfortunately, too much of what I heard was from the press, and almost all of it was negative. It felt as if it was Predators R Us. A lot of teens used MySpace and it showed as soon as you logged on. I even felt like I was a dirty old man just by checking it out! One is for sure, though, I’m not old.
Lo and behold, the next big buzz was around Facebook. So I checked it out. And I liked it. You know who I found on Facebook? My wife. My sister. My cousin. My brother-in-law. My college buddies. My other college buddies! Yeah, like so many others I had to go to two different colleges, one a party school, the other to get my degree from! Who else was on Facebook? My high school buddies. My grade school buddies even! Wow! The memories came flooding in.
Seeing those folks’ pictures after all those years was a blast. Seeing their families was even more of a blast. We shared pictures, exchanged pleasantries, commented on how we all looked, how beautiful our families were and how much we had changed, or not changed. Then Facebook added the ability to write a status and to comment on other peoples’ statuses. Life couldn’t get better. You knew, at any instant, what people were doing, or thinking, and you could add your own thoughts on top of that.
Eventually I started logging on to Facebook to check out peoples’ status updates and new photos that they upload.
I wanted more.
I wanted to share my ideas and observations with the rest of the world, not just the select few friends on my Facebook account. I thought I’d start a blog. Yeah, I know, that ship had long sailed! But, it’s a great big ship, and there are still plenty of seats left.
I saw that Microsoft had something called Live Spaces. So I checked that out and started a blog there. It was alright, but it wasn’t the big ol’ community I was looking for. One of my other friends started a blog as well, and it was on Blogger. I tried that, liked it, signed up, and here I am! My wife liked the blog idea as well, so she started creating her own blogs. She has five or six to her name already! One of them is a family type blog on Wordpress, which is also pretty cool. I tried it too, but I stuck with Blogger because I think it is more user friendly, especially for non-high-traffic blogs, such as mine (although I would LOVE LOVE LOVE for my blog to be a high traffic one! How does one achieve that?). Besides, with one Google ID, I can share any Youtube video with my Blogger blog with one click of the mouse. Now that’s cool!
Problem is, I thought that I would always have ideas on what to write and what to share with all y’all. But I don’t. However, I think that I would be encouraged to write even more if I saw that there was a lot of traffic to my blog. There were a couple of weeks where I didn’t even write a single post to my blog. But now I’m back at it. But guess what?
I wanted more.
The thing that I enjoyed the most lately from Facebook was the status updates. So where can I find a place where all it does is encourage people to write about what they were doing, in a very short and simple format?
Twitter! I had heard about it, and I thought, what in the world is Twitter? Well, it’s a website that you sign up with where all you have to do is write an answer to a simple question: what are you doing? Wonderful! Just what the doctor ordered. Added bonus: you only get 140 characters to type in. Cherry on top? You can add anyone that’s on Twitter! Yes, I’m following a few celebrities, and one of them is following me back! How cool is that? I am now completely addicted to Twitter. I even added a feed from Twitter to my blog on Blogger!
So now I see my Twitter updates on my Blogger blog. Then I signed up with Twitterfeed! What is that? Well, anytime I post a new entry to my blog, Twitter lets people who follow me know about it! So my Twitter feeds my Blogger, and my Blogger feeds my Twitter! In any other context, that last sentence sounds dirty, doesn’t it?
More, you say?
Ok, try this on for size. Just today, I signed with for something called Ping.fm. So, here’s the deal. You sign up, log on, add any social network you are part of, then you can update all of those networks from this one place. One update, and it goes to your Facebook, Twitter, Blogger blog, Wordpress, LinkedIn and any other network you can think of. And then some. And here’s the kicker, you update Ping.fm from your cell phone by SMS/texting, or your Live Messenger or Yahoo! Messenger or AOL IM or iGoogle Gadget or even web mail. You don’t even have to log on to Ping.fm to make those updates. Hell, you don’t even have to be on the net to make those updates, if you use your cell phone! Ping.fm helps you join your disjointed social network, a one-stop-shop deal in this vast, vast 2nd coming of the web.
So there you have it. That’s Web 2.0! It’s something, isn’t it? What’s in the future? Well, nothing but the demise of TV, DVD, Blu Ray and anything that is not digitized and available at the tip of your fingers on your laptop. TV, what is that? My 18-month old son will be asking me when he’s 10!
Don’t let the revolution pass you.
Join us.
Welcome to Web 2.0.

4 comments:

J Khoury said...

It's long, but it's very interesting. I Like :)
To be honest, i didn't think i'll be reading it, after i noticed how long it was!! :) But i was curious, especially that you spent most of the evening writing!! :)
Good job!

CRK said...

First of all, your title has this song now stuck in my head! Good song, but now it's on constant loop! Thanks!

Anyway back to your blog - Web 3.0 is actually upon us, so enjoy your Web 2.0 while it lasts! In any case, Web 2.0 was not about social networking, although the most popular to emerge from that era happened to be those... Web 2.0 was about slick web-based applications - as much about the image/brand as it is about technology. In terms of tech, it ushered in the era of Ajax, Ruby on Rails and yalla for your employer's sake, Silverlight :)

The web-based apps were/are as diverse as it gets - last.fm was the best radio/music site (till I discovered finetune.com), Zoho created communities for shared workspaces, Basecamp for project management, a host of providers came up with web-based office replacements, and of course, there was online gossip in the form of MySpace, Hi5, and Facebook.

The idea of user generated content, or loser generated content for the most part, could only have been made possible by significant progress in IP definitions and licenses. This brings us to another major enabler of Web 2.0 - the Creative Commons license.

OK you got me on a rant... but it's a subject I feel strongly about. My prediction? The mighty will fall and Facebook will be hit worst - for the number of subscribers (45 million and counting) the business model has not worked yet...

K said...

The title was intentional, and I'm glad it affected you the way it was intended!

I wrote about Web 2.0 from my perspective. What it meant for me. You are much more plugged in and know more about it, but to me, Web 2.0 was all about Social Networking.

In any case, I think that even if the mighty will fall, there is enough momentum for Social Networking to stick around for a long time, in different formats.

Personally, I don't think the mighty will fall anytime soon.

An Observer said...

Very interesting. Still trying to keep up with all the new ways to stay in touch with the world. Already panting and it seems like there is so much to work on. I am officially out of Web 2.0 shape, and web 3.0 is right around the corner. Better keep running.
I am also enjoying your writing style. Yes, it was long, but I didn't really feel it. Thanks for sharing.