A friend of mine, a brilliant economist, asked me recently if there was a new version of the Web called Web 2.0 and what could be the possible link with the new Internet Protocol, IPv6. My response was the following: Web 2.0 is a new version of the Web that replaces Web 1.0 and there are no (for now!) direct implications with IPv6. Although the response to my friend’s question is correct, I did not really share with my friend the philosophy behind the emergence of Web 2.0 and all technical implications of this move.
Web 2.0 first emerged in 2004 during a meeting held between O’Reilly Media (a technology firm) and MediaLive International (a conference planning firm) while organizing a conference about the Internet. Initially, the term Web 2.0 was nothing more than an attractive name designed to emphasize the evolution of the Internet. The difference, for example, between IPv6 and Web 2.0 is that the former refers to an articulation of the state of the Internet Protocol (to replace IPv4) and the latter is a combination of a number of disparate ideas, practices, and programs.
The main variation between Web 1.0 and Web 2.0 is that Web 1.0 delivers information to people whereas Web 2.0 allows the active creation of information by users. The development of Web 2.0 applications involves both the developers and users. Myspace, Digg, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and Wikipedia are all examples of sites that facilitate collaboration between content generators and content users.
Web 2.0 technologies are open-source tools that foster collaboration and participation. Web 2.0 tools facilitate the publication and storage of textual on blogs and wikis as well as podcasts (audio recordings) and vidcasts (video materials). Web 2.0 principles from a collaborative perspective include individual creativity, harnessing the power of the crowd, diverse data on an epic scale, architecture of assembly, independent access to data, and so on.
Web 2.0: A new Philosophy
More than the development of models and tools, Web 2.0 is a new philosophy behind the evolution of the Internet. This philosophy is similar to the open-source movement initiated by Stallman during the 1980s. Even though the open-source movement began in the early 1960s with the advent of ARPAnet project of the US Defense Department, the roots of the contemporary open-source odyssey are connected directly to Stallman’s GNU on a free, libre, open-source alternative to proprietary versions of the Unix operating system (OS). Stallman’s GNU project spanned the course of a decade and resulted in a number of initiatives eventually licensed for distribution under the GNU General Public License (GNU GPL). Linux OS (developed by Linus Towards with its first Linux release in 1991), Navigator of Netscape in 1998, MySQL, Firefox, PHP, Ruby, Perl, Python, or Joomla (I am using to develop this site!) are few FLOSS and open-source initiatives.
Free, libre, and open source software (FLOSS) is software that is liberally licensed to grant the right of users to study, change, and improve its design through the availability of its source code. Stallman developed the free software definition and the concept of copyleft to ensure software freedom for all.
Software drives the information society. Software enables us to connect and communicate in ways that drastically changes how we work and play. Software facilitates productivity, at the same time, delivers the digital lifestyle. The open-source movement has gained both momentum and acceptance as the potential benefits have been increasingly recognized by individuals, corporate players, and governments.
A 2003 survey of open-source developers conducted by scholars at Stanford University revealed that the spatial distribution of the open-source movement has evolved into a global phenomenon covering all continents including Africa. Many governments (Peru, Venezuela, Vietnam, Malaysian, India, Germany, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, French, etc.) adopted open-source software in most of their agencies. Today, the majority of companies move to FLOSS.
After the open-source movement, we are acknowledging a new paradigm shift with Web 2.0. This new gestalt (from Kuhn’s perspective) is what I called “The Open-Content Movement”. The purpose of the movement is to facilitate collaboration and participation toward a global collective intelligence or, to wink at the Fishers, a global distributed mind.
The main idea of distributed mind is that multiskilling for each individual tends to be less important for knowledge teams than putting together the right team of people who collectively have multiple skills. The contribution of computer-mediated communication system (CMCS) to Fishers’ distributed mind is to facilitate the collaboration between virtual knowledge teams.
A CMCS is the use of the computer to structure, store, process, and distribute human communications. A CMCS is frequently used for asynchronous text-based communication, meaning that the participants are distributed in time and space. It can also include graphics or digitize voice, as well as real-time (synchronous) exchanges such as chats and instant messaging (for example, Lotus Notes Sametime, Skype, Yahoo Messaging, and so on). The most common forms of CMCS are electronic mail, computerized conferencing, and bulletin board systems.
The global distributed mind from the new open-content movement will illustrate the capacity of people of the world to participate and collaborate. It will demonstrate the capacity of people to share a collective world’s culture character that represents their cultural mental programming. After all, this is all about globalization: an integration of the world’s culture, economy, and infrastructure through transnational investment, rapid proliferation of communication and information technologies, and the impact of free-market forces on local, regional, and national economies.