Will the world really change?

December 17th, 2006 by Martin

For the “digital natives”, living and learning in the web is nothing exceptional, the existence of all this (web2.0) technology is totally self-evident. And now even the TIME magazine has decided:


“The Person of the Year is You! Yes, you. You control the Information Age. Welcome to your world.”

The web2.0 finally arrived in the mainstream. Will all these developments lead to a completely new society, with all of us being connected and open-minded, with less control and more democracy? I would love to see that, but I doubt it will happen in the near future.

In Danah Boyd’s recent article on being virtual, she states that

“That’s the big joke about the social media explosion. 1980s and 1990s researchers argued that the Internet would make race, class, gender, etc. extinct. There was a huge assumption that geography and language would no longer matter, that social organization would be based on some higher function. Guess what? When the masses adopted social media, they replicated the same social structures present in the offline world.”

Most people don’t want to change. Especially when it’s about opinions and attitudes. They tend to consume only what they know they like and what supports their opinion. They want to feel confirmed in what they think. And the more the web and other media offers, the greater are the chances that they will stay in their niche. This will become even worse when we’ll sometimes have real good recommendation services and adaptive systems. As Götz Hamann wrote in the German ZEIT magazine in this article:

“Jeder bekommt die Weltsicht, die ihm passt.”
(Everyone gets the world outlike he likes)

I’m not a misanthrope, but I have the strong feeling that all the postive effects we expect from living and learning in the web mostly concern the people that wouldn’t have needed technology to act and think autonomous, to be open-minded and to widen their horizon. The web is not good or bad per se, it’s just a medium.

First Web Monday in Kaiserslautern

November 21st, 2006 by Martin

Yesterday, I was attending Kaiserslautern’s first “Web Monday” in the new Fraunhofer building. The idea of these events is to connect users, developers, founders, entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, researchers, web pioneers, bloggers, podcasters, designers and other folks interested in Web 2.0 topics (in the broadest sense) [see the Web Monday FAQ].

We were about 25 people, mostly from IT institute circles. Talks were given by several persons, among others from Stephan Baumann (head of C4).

20061120 Web Montag 001

Surely he is right when he claims that Web2.0 is NOT dead. The hype may decrease, but the stuff works just great, and I can’t imagine to get along without all these great applications I use in my daily work. The next big step will be to form the next generation of the web - in my opinion, this can only mean a mixture of Web2.0 approaches and more formal methods. That’s what I want to do realize in ALOE, too - more information about that will follow soon.

Although the attendants were mainly technically oriented (not only that, there was no single woman - what else do you expect in a technical university surrounding!?), the first Web Monday was an important first step to bring together people, fostering the establishment of a community to share and develop ideas. And to have a good time and to drink beer, of course ;-)