I was in a meeting this weekend and the term Web 3.0 came up. It threw me for a loop. I’m still trying to figure out how to incorporate Web 2.0 into my life. I'm maintaining 4 blogs, a Twitter feed, membership on 4 social networks and now cyberspace is hurling towards Web 3.0
? (Not to say anything about staying on top of old-fashioned Web 1.0 activities like e-mail).
Now, I’ve got a grip on the “how” of Web 2.0, and I’m working on managing my Web 2.0 time, and I’m even getting better at folding in Web 2.0 functions into my workplace, thanks to Blackboard
. Despite this I still suffer from the curse of my profession: I can't get way from the meta-level questions that keeping appearing in my mind.
For starters, what is the purpose of social networking? Is it just a superficial web of connections?
Facebook’s stream of status updates shows what’s on our minds, my Twitter feed content hovers somewhere between Facebook status updates and my RSS feeds, and specialized social networks like Duke City Fix connect me to people who care about some of the same things I do. This is all entertaining, to be sure, but what else can we glean from this? Can deeper meaning, or even purpose, be assigned to Web 2.0? Does it have value?
To put it another way - I’ve friended lots of people on these Web 2.0 networks, but now I'm trying to figure out how Web 2.0 activity fits into the nature of friendship (or even acquaintanceship). Does Web 2.0 really enhance our lives?
I've played with applying the Aristotelian notion of eunoia
to Facebook friendships - a stretch, to be sure, but all in a day's work for me.
Making the call on Web 1.0 is a bit easier. Without a doubt, Web 1.0 transformed my life.
Like many people with hearing loss, I have to work hard to participate in group conversations. I’m never sure if I’ve understood things correctly, and the ROI
for speechreading new people isn’t great. Web 1.0 gave me access to BBSes (who remembers Telnet?) and listserves and e-mail – it was a terrific way to get in on the conversation without the brain-numbing tiredness created by hours of speechreading.
I ended up finding people of like minds on listserves like Deaf Academics
, and connecting to online communities devoted to my passions - human rights, the arts, and culture.
kicked this up to another level. It also does something else very well - it can create local change.
Let me give you an example.
For over a year I’ve been involved with a small social network
for young adults with hearing loss. It is a cause near and dear to my heart, mostly because when I was a young adult I didn’t know many people my age who could share tips on dating, or being a parent with hearing loss, or handling the communication issues that come up with that first real job. Since hearing loss affects a much larger percentage of older adults than young adults, in raw numbers there just are not many young adults with hearing loss. Most are scattered throughout their communities; many have never met anyone their age with hearing loss.
One day, while surfing this network, I noticed a post by a young woman in Albuquerque. And she lived in Barelas!
How could this be?
A hip young hearing-aid-wearing chica in Barelas
? (I thought I knew mi barrio fairly well, but obviously there was more to learn…)
We started sending each other private messages and one day decided to meet up at Flying Star downtown. After a long conversation, we figured out that our homes were separated by a corner and just 6 other homes!
Soon afterwards we connected on Facebook
, and from there realized that we had a Facebook friend in common – none other than local playwright and media personality, Gene Grant
A few weeks later, the Skip Gates debacle
took place. My newfound friend and I saw that Gene was putting on a reading of a play he had written called "Porch Monkey: The Re-Soiling of Old Glory" at the Vortex. I was interested in attending, but after remembering my last experience of struggling to hear at the Vortex, I decided against it.
Until I saw that my new friend and neighbor had asked Gene on Facebook if the Vortex Theater was looped for people with hearing loss.
And that Gene responded to her inquiry with curiosity and a can-do attitude.
One thing led to another, and the next thing I knew, I was sending out details about the equipment necessary to loop the Vortex for this event.
Once we got to the theater, we realized the equipment wasn’t working as well as we had hoped, but we muddled along. Given that this had all taken place in a few days and that the Vortex had not been able to test the system before the event (testing requires a hearing aid with T-coils), I was a little disappointed, but not surprised by the technological glitches.
My disappointment was negligible compared to my excitement that the Vortex Theater
now had the equipment that would make their performances accessible to people with t-coil equipped hearing aids. (Due to everyone’s busy schedules, we’re still working on resolving the technical issues, but we hope to get these resolved soon.)
Since then I've been wondering - would the Vortex have been looped without the social networking loops created by Web 2.0?
But it was the interconnectedness of these social networks made it possible for this to happen quickly by linking people with the desire, the contacts, the technical background, and the ability to make it happen.
One last thing.
After our success with this little venture, we decided that we needed to create yet another social networking connection - Duke City Fix - Hearing Loss in the Duke City
I’ll continue to think about the effects and implications of Web 2.0 through the lens of my professional training, but this experience opened my eyes to the kinds of local changes Web 2.0 can effect. I've even come up with one way of calculating its (extrinsic
I can't wait to see what Web 3.0 brings.