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Snippet from Elliot B Assessment 2.0

June 14, 2011

Web 2.0

Meanwhile, the Internet is evolving. ‘Web 2.0’ is the name given to the current state of development. Anderson (2006) describes “six big ideas behind Web 2.0”. These are:

1. user-generated content

2. the power of the crowd

3. data on an epic scale

4. architecture of participation

5. network effects

6. openness.

For the purposes of this paper, four of these ideas are of particular relevance.

User-generated content refers to the ease of creating content. Web services such as Bebo, WordPress and YouTube have made it easy to create content – and more and more young people are doing so, with social networking sites becoming a significant part of contemporary culture.

The power of the crowd refers to the collective intelligence that can be harnessed from large groups of people. The basic premise is that, subject to certain conditions, a large group of knowledgeable (but non-expert) users can make better decisions that any individual expert. Web services such as Digg and Wikipedia are cited as examples of this collective intelligence.

Architecture of participation is based on the twin ideas that Web services must be easy to use (thereby encouraging participation) and organised in such a way as to improve as more people use them. Google Search is a good example since it is very straight-forward to use and its search algorithms learn from the results of previous searches. An aspect of ease-of-use is the idea that not only is new content easy to create but it should be easily created from pre-existing content or easily combined with the contents of other web services (“mash-ups”).

Openness not only refers to the use of open source software for many Web 2.0 services but also the philosophy of the free sharing of information and resources among users, making it relatively straight-forward to capture and share information or resources, such as embedding a YouTube video in a blog. The generous copyright terms of Creative Commons licenses illustrate this philosophy.

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