Monthly Archives: January 2013

Does Web 2.0 Need the Help of the Law?

The internet and its users have always been proud of operating in an open, free, and anonymous network. These characteristics are a large part of the internet’s rapid rise to dominance all over the world. Web 2.0 technologies have enabled people to communicate easier and with more people.

Social media, blogs, smartphones, and plenty of other gadgets and technology have changed everyday life and communication. But are things moving too fast? Do we need laws to protect ourselves from situations that stifle integration and data sharing? Maybe.

That’s the question that Martin Bryant asks in a recent article on The Next Web about protecting the social web we’ve grown to love. He raises some interesting points. Despite being pioneers of the beliefs and ideas behind web 2.0, Facebook has recently shown a desire to close off its service from the datasphere. Specifically, they’ve cut off useful and user-driven apps like Yandex’s Wonder and Twitter’s Vine.

Martin goes on with more examples, writing, “There’s Facebook pulling Twitter Card support from Instagram, Twitter pulling friend-finding capabilities for its service from Instagram, Facebook pulling voice messaging app Voxer’s find friends access.” and much more. You get the point, right? There seems to be a lot of closing off of the web going on which is not what was intended!

When platforms that pushed and created the web we know now limit and close off their services, something isn’t right. After all, all of the data that people are sharing is theirs. They should be able to access and use it in any way they want from any platform or program. At least, that’s what Martin and many believe.

Martin’s primary argument stems from the fact that constricting data access stifles innovation. Innovation is always needed to drive the internet forward, create new technology, and create a better user experience online. Laws to protect access might help keep this going if the big web 2.0 companies don’t change their tune on their own.

Social Media Predictions for 2013

One of the key technologies or movements behind Web 2.0 is social media. Interaction with social media has been steadily and rapidly growing since the concept of Web 2.0 showed up in the late 1990s. It’s hard to imagine an internet without social media at this point. 

Over a billion people use Facebook and hundreds of millions of others use Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, and other social sharing sites like Pinterest. It’s obvious that social media will always be a part of the web experience, but no one is one hundred percent sure how it’s going to look or develop in the future.

There are some predictions out there on the web. Dion Hinchcliffe at ZDNet has put together a lengthy article describing some of the predictions for social media for businesses in 2013. They look very interesting and we’ll go over some of the more fascinating ones and leave the rest for your reading.

One of the key problems that Dion sees in business social media is that there is a “lack of social media familiarity and expertise in organizations at a management level.” Despite the problems and issues that result in this, Dion was still able to pump out eleven interesting predictions.

One of the most interesting is the fact that businesses will start to fully integrate “social media across the customer experience.” That means we’ll be able to see many companies utilizing social in everything they do, from ads to products, to PR.

A second interesting prediction is the fact that “social media will become a leading source of business intelligence.” Now many businesses gather data from a variety of sources like Google Analytics and other services. The real-time data that social media can provide looks like it might become ultra-relevant in 2013.

Lastly, Dion predicts that “data scientists” will be the top hires for businesses looking to expand their social media operations in 2013. Coming in a close second will be community managers and social architects.

If you find these few predictions interesting, be sure to check out the full article linked above. There’s plenty more where this came from!

Open and Free Internet Supporter Aaron Swartz Dead

The news about the suicide of 26-year old internet activist Aaron Swartz, who helped create Reddit and other useful platforms online, broke hours after he had passed on January 11th. For people involved in internet activism, free information movements, and the legal system set up around computer crime in this country, Aaron’s death is still being digested by many.

Aaron was one of the developers behind the popular RSS platform that helps to drive the web and keep people informed. He was an equal partner in the popular website Reddit, as well as the creator of the Open Library. He was always a proponent of a more open and free web, part of the philosophy behind the web 2.0 movement. As a testament to his intelligence, he became involved in all of this work at the young age of 13 and many of his accomplishments that helped the open web were finished by the time he was 20.

Aaron was instrumental in fighting back the poorly written web law known as SOPA. He created a group called DemandProgress to protect the freedom of online content and fight back against laws that fought freedom.

In his mid 20s, Aaron was caught up in legal matters involving the sharing of documents. Some were dropped, but others – like the downloading and sharing of academic articles from JStor at MIT – were pursued aggressively by the government, although JStor asked for the charges to be dropped.

No one knows for sure what caused him to commit suicide, but many supporters believe the aggressive tactics of the prosecution in his criminal case played a huge role. There has been an outpouring of support for Aaron and his family since the news broke. The web remembers those who have fought to make it better and to protect it.

Current laws on the books regarding computer and content crime have been heavily criticized in the past week for being excessive, cruel, and unusual punishment compared to many other violent and harmful crimes. Aaron Swartz will certainly be missed, but his death and his legacy will certainly not be a waste.

Web 2.0 Pioneer Critical of Movement He Helped Create

When most people hear the term “Web 2.0,” they generally know what it means. People understand that the web 2.0 movement was about a shift in how people interact with the web and with data. The internet became more interactive and personal, more social, less cold and strictly data-driven once web 2.0 ideas came into being.

To most people this is a good thing. But to Jaron Lanier, one of web 2.0’s champions and developers, it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. Jaron Lanier was instrumental in the late 1980s and 1990s in pushing virtual reality and a more tech-centric life. He was one of the many pioneers that set the stage for where the modern internet is today.

But Jaron Lanier has been rather introspective lately and sees a lot of problems with the web becoming increasingly social and mob-like. He’s not as enthusiastic about where the internet is taking our society and our culture. He worries that we as a culture are becoming too influenced and negative due to our mob-like tendencies online.

Lanier is definitely an in-depth thinker, and he has been taking the last few years to be critical and investigative of the movement he helped to create. He is very concerned about creating a system through social media and data that sells exactly what we want to be sold, in a sense numbing and simplifying our world.

A recent in-depth article, delving into Lanier’s thoughts, was posted on the Smithsonian Magazine website, and is a treat to read for anyone interested in the development of the web and technology. One striking statement the author makes about Lanier will no doubt make you want to read more. He writes: “Lanier is suggesting we are outsourcing ourselves into insignificant advertising-fodder. … He may be the first Silicon populist.”

Be sure to check out the article linked above!