Saturday, September 02, 2006

Wayward Web 2.0?

Here is a story of how quick perceptions and possibly quicker blog posts can be deceptive. It all started as I was reviewing some of the usual elearning and learning blogs I customarily visit. I just finished reading Steven Downes piece on 10 things you should know. Within that piece he links to another one of his posts, Principles for Evaluating Websites, in which one of his points is to always go to the source to check facts.

Now I continued my reading and I came to an entry by George Siemens at the elearnspace blog entitled: Berners-Lee on Web 2.0
I love it! I am filled with much joy :). Berners-Lee on Web 2.0: "Tim Berners-Lee, the individual credited with inventing the web and giving so many of us jobs, has become the most prominent individual so-far to point out that the Web 2.0 emperor is naked. Berners-Lee has dismissed Web 2.0 as useless jargon nobody can explain and a set of technology that tries to achieve exactly the same thing as "Web 1.0.""
I was kind of taken aback by this entry; it seemed so out of context. Since there was no way to post a comment I decided to investigate further. So I follow the link to find out more of what Berners-Lee, who is credited with inventing the web, had to say. Interestingly there is a link to the actual transcript of the Berners-Lee interview and I found the Berners-Lee is not as down on Web 2.0 as the elearnspace blog account would lead you to believe. Here is the complete question and answer.
LANINGHAM: You know, with Web 2.0, a common explanation out there is Web 1.0 was about connecting computers and making information available; and Web 2 is about connecting people and facilitating new kinds of collaboration. Is that how you see Web 2.0?

BERNERS-LEE: Totally not. Web 1.0 was all about connecting people. It was an interactive space, and I think Web 2.0 is of course a piece of jargon, nobody even knows what it means. If Web 2.0 for you is blogs and wikis, then that is people to people. But that was what the Web was supposed to be all along.

And in fact, you know, this Web 2.0, quote, it means using the standards which have been produced by all these people working on Web 1.0. It means using the document object model, it means for HTML and SVG and so on, it's using HTTP, so it's building stuff using the Web standards, plus Java script of course.

So Web 2.0 for some people it means moving some of the thinking client side so making it more immediate, but the idea of the Web as interaction between people is really what the Web is. That was what it was designed to be as a collaborative space where people can interact.

Now, I really like the idea of people building things in hypertext, the sort of a common hypertext space to explain what the common understanding is and thus capturing all the ideas which led to a given position. I think that's really important. And I think that blogs and wikis are two things which are fun, I think they've taken off partly because they do a lot of the management of the navigation for you and allow you to add content yourself.

But I think there will be a whole lot more things like that to come, different sorts of ways in which people will be able to work together.

The semantic wikis are very interesting. These are wikis in which people can add data and then that data can then be surfaced and sliced and diced using all kinds of different semantic Web tools, so that's why it's exciting the way people, things are going, but I think there are lots of new things in that vein that we have yet to invent.
After reading the full interview, I initially thought that Mr. Siemens was not a fan of Web 2.0 applications and I was going to write a quick snarky response. But then I got to thinking. What if Mr. Siemens was not against the application of what is called Web 2.0 tools for learning, but was just happy to see someone like Mr. Berners-Lee pointing out what we call Web 2.0 was just a continuation of tools already put in place by Web 1.0.? Mr. Siemens did not give me enough information to form a firm appreciation for the point he was trying to make. My wish is that he would clarify his statement. I have sent him an email asking for that clarification.

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