Web 2.0 – The Anthropology and Sociology

Thursday, 5 July 2007, 12:39 | Category : Life
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I’m not an anthropologist. Nor am I a sociologist, or a psychologist. I do, however, enjoy learning more about how people work – individually and as members of society. One of my favorite things to do is sit and watch people at a “cultural” event. Another is to read different blogs from across the blogosphere. Some are insightful, some are sad, and some make me want that 5 minutes back that I just spent on reading their blog.

Reading Web 2.0 – Marx v Socrates, I started thinking about whether Web 2.0 is truly the demise of an educated society and traditional media.
From the posting:

In early 2006, Andrew Keen published a polemic in the Weekly Standard in which he argued that Web 2.0 was taking us down a dangerous cultural path. He was troubled about the development of new Internet-based technologies that allowed just about anyone with a computer to be able to “to publish weblogs, digital movies, and music….to become an author, a film director, or a musician.” He warned of the dire consequences in which a world of millions of blogs would crowd out the informed expertise of the “elite mainstream media.”

As a culture, are we lessened by the din of voices crowding for our attention? No. I would argue that we are actually bettered by the ability for each person to have their own voice, their own sense of self. Allowing people to post their thoughts in blogs, their music via MySpace and other mediums, and their videos on YouTube, we have a greater sense of community and a greater sense of humanity.

Is that to say that everything that is posted is worthwhile? No. But neither is everything you are exposed to when you consume “elite mainstream media.” There may be better voices on Archive.org than on American Idol; funnier videos on YouTube than on Americas Funniest Home Videos, and more insightful blogs than the columns that appear in syndication.

What Web 2.0 provides is simple: it provides choice. You have choices about where you turn for information, for news, and for entertainment, in new ways that have never been explored before. Don’t believe me? Read the section of the post about women blogging in Egypt raised the awareness of attacks that occurred during the post-Ramadan feast holiday, which were ignored by mainstream media. Look at the overlays of Google Earth about the Darfur Genocide. Would society be as integrated, or at least as well-educated as we are without these Web 2.0 technologies?

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