Sunday, November 27, 2011

An Aside

As I completed the course on Web 2.0, I suddenly gained some perspective on the Occupy Wall Street protesters.  Yes, the protests include people from all age groups.  But I'm pretty sure the most active participants are of the younger generations?  The so-called Internet natives?  The ones who grew up with Web 2.0?

I noted in my last post that I made a mental shift as a result of taking this course.  It dawned on me that Web 2.0 is not just a bunch of fancy new applications but that it reflects (promotes?) a way of looking at the world.  I'm used to organizing my books, music, files, web pages, bookmarks, etc. in a specific place (server, hard drive, bookshelf) that I own or rent, using a hierarchical organization system.  Every item is "mine" and has a single place that's "its place".  As my grandmother said: a place for every thing and everything in its place.  People immersed in Web 2.0 aren't hierarchical, they're collaborative.  They don't buy files and store them in folders on hard drives, they use creative commons, links, tags and clouds.   One person doesn't decide where things go, he or she contributes information and organizational preferences to a massive general area and it organizes itself organically. It's not taxonomy, it's folksonomy.

In many ways, I identify with and prefer this way of thinking.  I've always been a "descriptive" rather than a "prescriptive" when it comes to grammar and vocabulary.  What appeals to me about the dogme approach is that, given the right conditions, a lesson will organically form itself from the "cloud" of individual needs and preferences in the room.  My spiritual viewpoint is also one where definitions aren't so important but rather "what's here now".  So, it was a surprise to me to discover that I still had strong hierarchical habits in my approach to the Internet!

OK, so the OWS participants refuse to name leaders or specific causes but they meet every day to state opinions and get feedback from each other on a dynamic agenda.  People of earlier generations are puzzled and keep trying to press them into our hierarchical way of seeing things.  I get it.  It will be interesting to see where it goes from here.