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 and Ning. 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.

Web 2.0 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?

Perhaps.

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) value.

I can't wait to see what Web 3.0 brings.

Views: 4

Tags: Technology, hearing_loss

Comment by ashleighe jerome on September 21, 2009 at 2:28pm
awwws <3 it Babe!
HAHA I know it was uber sad that it didnt work...but we got it looped which is step one. I also was so excited and happy to see Gene be so pro-active about it all! this is awesome. P.S. I need to send you an email of an update. Do you check your Barelas Babe email during the week. I may need to recruite yours or one of your counterparts ;) heehee...help with something uber exciting. I will have to PM you it is a ton! <3 Thank you so much for writing about this! I am so excited. This is meerly a taste of things to come...watch out for us Barela Babes...we bring communication to the community ;) err...ok we can work on that heehees!
Comment by Gene on September 21, 2009 at 7:05pm
Congrats on the new page! A terrific idea.

I'm super determined to get every theatre in the city looped. I have not the foggiest idea how but that's the challenge. I just have a strong feeling the answers will come, just the way they did with ya'll's guidance for the staged reading.

And what a terrific read this was. Incorporating all this into a life is a challenge, no? You really painted a lovely picture here!
Comment by cc on September 21, 2009 at 8:40pm
This is a thought-provoking post, BB - I can see why you are a teacher, and it would be fun to be in your class!

Your first bold question strikes a chord with me. "Is it just a superficial web of connections? what is the web's social network's purpose?" Actually, as I drive through the city, I imagine people I know 'only through DCF.' I think about the comments these cyber acquaintances - 'only through DCF'- have made, how their personalities are demonstrated in different discussions and post comments (especially during the election year!) and I feel I know them. Somehow, for me, the knowing these people are real and that they exist and that they have these distinct opinions and ways of thinking, and that I know them well enough that I could imagine what they would think, well, that enriches my life here. yes it does. I have a broader knowledge of different folks in my own community.

Only yesterday, waiting for the left turn signal on Alameda I was wondering, "which of these drivers are the folks I interact with on DCF?"

All these folks like Uncle Jess, cathyray, dolores, Ron da Bomb, Brendan --- I could list over fifty, --- that I am familiar with here, whose personalities shine forth through their typewriting and their little square picture - well, they are part of Albuquerque for me. I talk about our discussions with my family. I think about what they would say in situations. It is really weird! isn't it? That we do not have any other way we connect besides cyberspace.

As I get well into my fifth decade, I do have to say that the fullness of my social networks, both cyber and earth-bound, demands that I make more limits.
Comment by cc on September 21, 2009 at 8:47pm
And now that I begin to read the article about Web 3.0, I think the whole 'personal assistant' focus of it is not that "social."
Comment by Ron Da Bomb on September 22, 2009 at 8:53am
Interesting read! Many times I've wondered the same, whether all this is "just a superficial web of connections?" The answer changes from time to time. But mostly, I agree with cc, that this site in particular has a bit of an enchantment, some kind of hold on me.

I have created a special category: Friends I've Never Met.

I will probably never meet most of the regulars here. That being said, I have vague notions of meeting some folks. One day I plan on joining the Urban Lebowski's and meet for some libations and a few frames. Barelas Babe and I have talked about meeting at the airport observation deck one day to enjoy a breakfast burrito. She tells me to look for her colorful hearing aids. I keep my eyes peeled!
Comment by JeSais on September 22, 2009 at 9:54am
Fantastic post! I think you answered your own questions: "what is the purpose of social networking? Is it just a superficial web of connections?" and with a great story at that.

For me, the purpose of social networking is complicated. I have "real" friends. Some of my social networking replaces some of the F2F contact (especially now that I have moved away from Calif). Before I really made any "real" friends here, social networking kept me from going completely nuts.

I also do a lot of social networking for business... not that I'm online hawking product (which is bad form) but I truly believe that people do business with people.

.. but Web 3.0 ? oh lord. sounds like fancy search to me, and not a huge leap like Web 2.0 was.... thanks for sharing the article though!
Comment by Community Relations on September 22, 2009 at 2:29pm
Great post. Glad to hear there is one more looped facility in ABQ. On th e topic of social networking and self advocacy among younger HH community, other than HLAAbq, is anyone aware of any older people working on this? It seems older adults aren't as likely to self disclose or ask for accommodations to their hearing loss.

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