Danah Boyd asked herself, “What is Web2.0 and why does it matter?” It seems that’s the type of thing Ph.D. candidates at Cal Berkeley’s School of Information Management and Systems do in their spare time.
Web2.0 is about glocalization, it is about making global information available to local social contexts and giving people the flexibility to find, organize, share and create information in a locally meaningful fashion that is globally accessible. Technology and experience are both critical factors in this process, but they themselves are not Web2.0. Web2.0 is a structural shift in information flow. It is not simply about global->local or 1->many; it is about a constantly shifting, multi-directional complex flow of information with the information evolving as it flows. It is about new network structures that emerge out of global and local structures.
In order for Web2.0 to work, we need to pay attention to how different cultural contexts interpret the technology and support them in their variable interpretations. We need to create flexible infrastructures and build the unexpected connections that will permit creative re-use.
For Web2.0 to be successful, technology and policy must follow glocalized needs and desires. This will be a complex and challenging process full of complicated issues as technologists, designers, social scientists and politicos engage in an unknown dance with very different values and pressures. This dance can and probably will disrupt nation-state and institutional structures; these groups will work hard to stop the destruction of their power. Neither China nor the RIAA really wants Web2.0 to happen and folks like them have the potential to really foul it up.
Those who believe that Web2.0 is the way to go must take on the responsibility of focusing on the people first, to keep them and their needs at the forefront of your mind while you design and build, re-design and re-build. Let the technology and business follow the desires and needs of people. Otherwise, Web2.0 could completely collapse or simply become a tool for the maintenance of structural power.