This paper discusses Web 2.0 technologies and their impact on society. The first section of this paper introduces Web 2.0 technologies and briefly defines them. The next sections discuss the advantages and disadvantages of Web 2.0. Next, the paper discusses the values that Web 2.0 has brought to society. Finally, we make concluding remarks about how Web 2.0 will change over time.
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There are many opinions as to where Web 2.0 came from, and how it will impact our lives in the future. At first, many people saw Web 2.0 as a buzzword, but not really a new concept. Web 2.0, as it is considered today, was a result of the dot-com bust in 2001. In 2001, many people began to believe that the web was overrated, and probably would not have many significant implications in the future. However, during the internet shakeout, a few people saw a promising future for web-based technologies. The Web 2.0 conference set out to find the next web technologies (O’Reilly, 2005).
Web 2.0 is changing the way society communicates. The next generation of social networking has created endless opportunities for people to share content. Web 2.0 technologies allow for two-way interaction. Unlike updating a website, posting information about a company on Facebook allows companies to receive feedback about the products and services. The interactive nature of Web 2.0 is one of the many ways that Web 2.0 differentiates itself from Web 1.0 (Bohley, 2010).
Web 2.0 allows for constant change in content. One of the best ways to explain these new technologies is through example. The creators of Web 2.0 originally thought of a list of applications that they believed represented the change from Web 1.0 to Web 2.0. The original list is in the following table.
Upcoming.org and EVDB
Domain name speculation
Search engine optimization
Cost per click
Content management systems
Source: O’Reilly “What is Web 2.0” 2005.
One of the main differences between these Web 2.0 technologies is the way the content changes. Instead of having scheduled updates and maintenance, Web 2.0 is constantly changing the way people see information. For example, a Wiki user has the option of deleting, adding, and modifying information. There is no one that really controls the content on these types of applications. Because there is no one monitoring the content, there is no way of knowing whether or not the information from these sites is correct. However, these mash-up sites create opportunities for people to share content in ways that were not possible before Web 2.0 (O’Reilly, 2005).
DoubleClick, a Web 1.0 technology differs from Google’s AdSense, a Web 2.0 technology. One of the main differences between the two applications is how they go about putting ads on the web pages. While DoubleClick boasts over 2,000 implementations, the newer AdSense already has hundreds of thousands of sites to target. Since DoubleClick requires a formal contract, it mainly targets larger websites. Google realized that the bulk of the web was actually comprised of smaller websites. In order to target these smaller websites, the companies needed to find a way to integrate the ads in formats that could reach a broader base of customers. Google’s AdSense can place an advertisement on virtually any webpage. The Web 2.0 difference is how applications can take advantage of a different platform in order to serve more customers (O’Reilly, 2005).
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From a business standpoint, major companies see Web 2.0 as an opportunity to expand into new markets, and reach out to people who use social networking sites. The challenge now will be for companies to find a way to integrate these technologies into a way that can promote the business. Sites such as Facebook and Twitter can be used as marketing tools, but only if the company knows how to make use of them. While many people understand how to use these popular sites, not many are aware of how to utilize them in a way that attracts customers and grows a business (Gilette, 2010).
Companies must also beware that social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter could be used against them. Social networking sites make it easy for customers to post their view of a company on a website. Someone who had a bad experience with a product could tweet about the experience, leaving the company vulnerable to these attacks. A company must pay even more close attention to the customer service aspect of the business in order to ensure that customers are not tempted to say harmful opinions about the company. As an example, a frustrated United Airlines customer wrote a song and posted it to YouTube about how the airline was careless with his luggage and broke his guitar. This is obviously not the kind of publicity that any company wants to have (Gillette, 2010). Web 2.0 requires companies to be more up to date with services and customer feedback.
Advantages of Web 2.0
As the internet has become the most convenient and popular medium of communication, Web 2.0, an enhancement of the existing internet, has developed a system in which online users have become participants rather than mere viewers (Advantages and Disadvantages of Web 2.0, 2010). Based upon the interaction with online users, Web 2.0 is becoming more and more popular. Here we discuss some major advantages of Web 2.0 that can be treated as the drivers of its development.
Web 2.0 created an advanced communication platform both for public and private use. For public use, it enhances the way people collect information by giving more access to information around the world. It allows the mass population to communicate with each other and spread ideas rather than receiving their information from a specific authority or a single resource. In the Web 2.0 environment, the information can flow freely and people can express their opinions without fear of repercussions. For example, Google Documents facilitates group work on projects by allowing members to create, share and update documents to the same page and combine all the thoughts from different members at the same time.
For private use, Web 2.0 helps to meet the personal needs of users for creating and sharing private information from limited users. Web 2.0 actually makes the internet more personalized by allowing each individual to have information that is tailored to their needs and interests (Advantages and Disadvantages of Web 2.0, 2010). For instance, the Gmail phone offers users the ability to enjoy free and fast online communications dedicated to traditional physical devices such as telephones and cell-phones.
Web 2.0 provides a compatible interface that enables a single user to use different applications at the same time easily. Hence, we can say that Web 2.0 is actually establishing a true democratic digital system in the world of the internet (MacDonald, 2009). That is also why Facebook and Twitter have become so popular right now; they enable users to create their own online personal space in which they can make or search friends, and update their personal information. Web 2.0 also takes accessibility to the next step by letting users have the power to determine how much of their content they wish to share and in what ways. Web 2.0 lets users choose if they wish to upload content using audio, video, or text files. People can even use Facebook to arrange a date, a social party such as Halloween or any group activities happening in their social network. Users are enjoying sharing their stories and daily feelings on Facebook and Twitter instead of staying alone at home to watch television. Moreover, for some big companies such as Saleforces.com, the Web 2.0 community and social networking sites are the best places to share the success stories, efficient knowledge worker collaboration, employee satisfaction, and client’s success (Therwanger, 2010).
Web 2.0 facilitates people to get better access to information they need. In the environment of Web 2.0, people will be able to get better information about things happening throughout the world from multiple resources by getting rid of the limitation of government controlled media. Online web users can easily accomplish searching and recording information they need for the accumulation of their personal knowledge, which helps them make better decisions. RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feeds are a good example of Web 2.0 applications that help people collect the most information from the resources links they have signed up for simultaneously. People can look up the news in which they are interested in the same interface without opening multiple websites and going around different pages. Such immediate information cannot be achieved by any other means.
Web 2.0 also promotes the positive business model changes in enterprises. Redaktion points out seven core benefits of Web 2.0 for businesses:
“1) Core enterprise applications will become more effective through the incorporation of Web 2.0 technologies.
2) Next-generation Web platforms can be highly efficient in overall procurement and sales strategies.
3) Lessons from Web 2.0 community and social networking success stories can be leveraged within the enterprise for more efficient knowledge worker collaboration and overall employee satisfaction.
4) Semantic tagging technologies can greatly increase the navigation of internal and external information overload and increase information-based product consumption and use.
5) Web 2.0 communities can be used for new product feedback, shortening the product development time and targeting valuable marketing resources.
6) Targeting bloggers and other influential Web users can help to control an organization’s image and influence publicity for the positive
7) Making Web-based marketing the norm, rather than the exception, will help optimize overall marketing spend” (Redaktion, 2006).
Web 2.0 promotes the development of E-Commerce. E-commerce is one of the boons of Web 2.0 innovations that have made shopping a much more simple and efficient experience on the internet (Jones, 2010). Its biggest advantage is that the providers of online services and products can offer better customer service and better interaction with their customers.
Web 2.0 increases the effectiveness of marketing. Online retailers earn the benefit of marketing by communicating immediately with a prospective buyer and provide all the information and clarifications that he or she needs. For example, many of online retailing websites have applied the Web 2.0 applications such as video catalogues, instant calling options and instant message services. With the advancement of internet technology, it has become easy to display products through video coverage on the website. The video coverage can also be added in the description page with the help of websites such as YouTube.com or Photobucket.com. In such a way, the responses from the consumer side can be increased dramatically.
Disadvantages of Web 2.0
Although Web 2.0 has several advantages to society, there are some disadvantages. These disadvantages include several concerns amongst users. First, companies are unsure how to use the data. Secondly, there are privacy concerns with personal information out on the web. Third, Web 2.0 content is not always reliable information because anyone can update it. Fourth, Web 2.0 is seen as a security threat to many company managers. These disadvantages are discussed in more detail below.
First, companies are not entirely sure how to use these technologies in a way that benefits their business. For example, a company might decide to have a blog or a comment section added to its website. However, without careful monitoring, this could easily become an easy way for frustrated customers to express their feelings. For example, Dell opened a blog on its website in 2006, and employees found that most of the comments on the blog were negative feelings towards the company. While it did allow Dell to quickly find out what its customers’ concerns were, it could harm business if potential customers are only reading negative feedback about the company (Vernon, 2007).
Another concern with Web 2.0 is personal privacy, especially with children. As a parent, Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter can be worrisome. When a child goes online, it is easy for them to go to these social networking sites and give out personal information about themselves and their families. Many children do not realize how dangerous the web can be, and how many people can access the information that they put online. There are several cases in which adopted children have been stalked by their birth parents that used Facebook to find them. Most adoptive parents want communication to be through a social worker or other intermediary, and worry about the child’s birth parents having unwanted communication with their child. This is becoming a growing concern for parents of adopted children as Web 2.0 social networking applications such as Facebook makes it easier than ever to find information about people. Families find themselves in a difficult situation when it is hard to monitor their child’s internet activity and contact with birth parents. This has been a controversy for both birth and adoptive parents (Macdonald, 2010).
Additionally, Web 2.0 content is not a reliable source of information. Web 2.0 allows anyone to be in charge of the content. For example, Wikipedia is an online site that allows anyone to add information or take information out of each page. While this may be a good way to encourage data collaboration, this makes it difficult to monitor the quality of the content presented in the wiki. Consequently, Web 2.0 sites are not a reliable form of information. There is no way to be able to tell whether or not someone has made up the content or actually used legitimate sources. Even on social networking sites such as Myspace, it is estimated that forty percent of the content is untrue information about the person. While these sites are able to guess how much of the content is not correct, it is impossible to know what information is accurate (Vernon, 2007).
Web 2.0 also poses a security problem for a company’s most valuable information. While there have always been problems with viruses on computers, Web 2.0 allows for even more opportunities for hackers. This has become even more apparent as companies have noticed an increased number of worms that have been attacking company data. One survey found that security threats were a concern of nearly fifty-two percent of executives surveyed when asked about whether or not they would want their employees using Web 2.0 applications. Many companies feel that if they allow their employees to use Web 2.0 technologies at work, they may be putting the company’s secure data at risk (Watson, 2008).
The disadvantages to Web 2.0 show that it is important to realize that not all new technologies have positive effects on society. Web 2.0 brings to light a host of new problems that many people have not had to worry about in the past. Knowing that there are some problems with Web 2.0, it is important for users to be aware of what could happen if content is posted online using one of these applications. It is important to realize that any information that is posted to the internet using a Web 2.0 application is available somewhere for someone to see and that this data is not as secure as many would initially think.
Value of Web 2.0
Web 2.0 certainly has dramatically changed the way we use the internet today and is revolutionary in the way web developers and web companies make their websites. Its responsiveness and ability to create social and collaborative web environments has made Web 2.0 an important development for the internet. One important question that arises from the development of Web 2.0 is what values do Web 2.0 technologies bring to businesses, communities and our society. Web 2.0 has had a major impact on all three of these groups which results in major impacts on our daily lives.
The major implication of Web 2.0 technologies on our society is that our human society is merging with a network of computers (Nations, 2010). We used to just use the internet as a tool for information for anything we needed, such as sports, entertainment, academics, etc. Web 2.0’s interactive capabilities and enormous network have made it almost an imperative to be connected in this network for various social reasons. It is almost like we have both a human state of being and a network being at the same time. With our dependence (or possibly addiction) on this technology, these networks are becoming a necessity in other technologies like cell phone applications and smaller laptops. Whether or not this is a positive impact on society is debatable. Certainly proponents of technology and innovation support Web 2.0 technologies as an improvement in communications around the world. Opponents do not seem to be as strong in their stance, but there are those that argue that people’s privacy is at risk and that Web 2.0 is another tool for western globalism.
Anybody who watches the news witnessed the major impact Web 2.0 can have on societies in the last couple of years. The 2009 presidential election in Iran that resulted in the re-election of Mahmoud Ahmandinejad sparked in a fury of protests and riots that shook the nation to its core. The reason for the protests was the widespread feeling that the election was corrupt and Ahmandinejad was not the real winner of the election. In Iran, an Islamic republic, protestors are often treated with contempt from the police, the military and the government. Although it is called a republic, the nation is governed by a supreme leader (The Office of the Supreme Leader, Sayyid Ali Khamenei, 2010). It is thought by many that the elections in Iran are fixed and go to the candidate favored by Khamenei. Web 2.0 became a great opportunity for these protestors to show the rest of the world the injustice that was going on in their country (Weaver, 2010). The protestors posted photos, videos and blogs on sites such as Facebook and Twitter, which gave the rest of the world a glimpse into what was happening in Iran. People from around the world saw this protest, saw the police response and became sympathetic to the cause of the protestors. Although Ahmandinejad has yet to step down as President of Iran, the protestors got the attention and sympathy of the rest of the world and have weakened diplomatic power for the Iranian rulers. This could have a major impact on their society as they try to move their society towards a secular democracy rather than an Islamic fundamentalist nation.
Web 2.0 has become a necessity in the business world in many ways and has even impacted the way our government performs its duties. In today’s world, businesses certainly have to keep up with what is going on with Web 2.0 in order to compete in the market. Many businesses now have Facebook pages and Twitter accounts so they can market to consumers and to do market research on these social networks. Also, businesses use this technology to improve information flows and knowledge management on technologies like wikis or blogs (Schneckenberg, 2009). This can have positive impacts on the business as well as increasing networking opportunities for co-workers.
As mentioned earlier, our government is also getting involved with social network technologies. The Department of Defense is using technologies such as blogging, wikis, and RSS feeds among others in order to share knowledge with the military and intelligence agencies (Web 2.0 Guidance Forum, 2010). Using this technology gives us a possible upgrade in security in our country as well as major advantages for us overseas.
Web 2.0’s impact on our government does not end with bureaucracies. Politicians are using these technologies more and more to give them an edge with their constituents for elections (Hoffman, 2008). One politician who was able to effectively use Web 2.0 technologies was Barack Obama, who used Facebook and Meetup to connect with voters. With the growth of Web 2.0 networks, the importance of this technology on our nation’s political process will also grow and have long-term impacts on how our society views candidates and their legislative ideas. Certainly, if Web 2.0 is having major impacts on our society’s business and governmental entities, Web 2.0 is going to impact our lives in some way daily.
Web 2.0 is vastly changing the way information is spread throughout the world. Like any technology, there are both advantages and disadvantages of using it. Web 2.0 can be used to help promote a company’s business, but it can also be a means for customers to complain about the company’s service. Web 2.0 allows for a faster way of spreading information in the form of Twitter and Facebook, but these sites also raise privacy concerns. Web 2.0 allows for more opportunities for people to share information on the internet. More people’s opinions will be online, and there is no way of guaranteeing what others will do with this information. As we mentioned, there have been some problems with adoptive parents finding out that their children are talking to their birth parents without their consent. These types of problems will continue to rise in the future.
Web 2.0 will ultimately grow and continue to impact our lives. Web 2.0 has brought many values to our society. For example, President Barack Obama was able to use Facebook to communicate with potential voters. Web 2.0 certainly had an impact on the support he was able to obtain throughout the presidential election. Politicians will eventually need to further utilize these technologies in order to gain a competitive edge in elections. Web 2.0 also facilitated the fast spread of information about the corruption associated with the Iranian elections. Web 2.0 will continue to affect important issues like this in the future.
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