Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Web 2.0 in the World

There seems to have been a flurry of media stories about Web 2.0 over the past few days. The Guardian appears to be leading the way: first with its scoop that schools are going to scrap history lessons in favour of teaching students about Twitter and Facebook (I exaggerate, and surely so do they), and then with the claim in today's paper that the print Guardian is to be discontinued and replaced by Tweets. (Like all the best April Fools, the latter story has a certain scary plausibility -- the notion that any story can be covered in 140 characters is one I expect to see reappearing in less ironic contexts before too much longer.)

Academic researchers are on the job, of course: witness (amongst much else) this recent research from the University of Kansas. I'm not sure how much this study adds to what we know already, but this may be a taster for more adventurous things to come.

And -- as if we needed to be reminded that social networking needn't always be for the good -- here's a sobering article on the use of Bebo etc. for sectarian purposes in Northern Ireland. I had heard of this phenomenon before -- both on the blogs and IRL -- and I find it deeply depressing: a reminder of how Web 2.0 technology, which in most ways I like so much, can also be used not to challenge old ways of thinking but to reinforce them.


  1. Of course as professionals we should also all be on LinkedIn, then on Facebook to keep in touch with the students, etc etc etc. Soon we will have to communicate using twitter because none of us has the time to go out onto the corridor anymore... Though department meetings might benefit from a 140 character limit!

  2. I love the Guardian story!

  3. "a reminder of how Web 2.0 technology ... can also be used not to challenge old ways of thinking but to reinforce them." I guess the same was similarly true of older technologies, like books, used for good and ill - plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose...

    The stuff about the strength of weak ties is very interesting, btw, thanks for the link. :-)