Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Power of web 2.0 !

Heard of this term ? I am sure you would have. This is the buzz word around. Everyone, from students to businesses are talking about this. But only a hand full actually understand what is it. Now, I am not going to explain to you what it actually is (its quite boring to explain that, so please help yourself). But I am going to talk about the power which this, so called new technology (actually, its not a new technology) has given to the users.

Power, is a double edge sword. If nuclear power can be used to produce energy so can it be used to produce bombs (and of course it can make or break goverments). So is the case with web 2.0. On one hand where it has marked a paradigm shift by transferring the power to the users on the other it has made the users also vulnerable. Let me elaborate on this.

Giving power to users is to allow them to publish their own content in the manner they want. From companies' point of view, this is synonymous to "word of mouth" in the online world. Thats why so many organizations are humming this tune. But this has also given users to express themselves more freely and to generate their own virtual world. Its about creating one's image in the virtual environment. The popularity of applications like HalfLife and now the recent launch by Google exploit the people's desire to be something or someone that they are not and these applications give users the power to create profiles to satisfy those only. Even the social networking sites revolve round the same concept. Popularity of orkut in India or Facebook in US or Hi5 in Singapore, have created new developements in the online world that are based on user profiling and communities generation. But its here only that the people are made vulnerable to this medium. What actually makes them vulnerable is not the technology but their own carelessness or may be, their ignorance. They are made vulnerable because they forget or ignore the very fact which has given this medium its power. (Any guesses !) Its the openness that this medium offers. (I know you hadn't got it). Internet is an open forum and web 2.0 has made it even more so. This is NOT real world, but is quite different from it. Yes, it may look like our real world but the fundamentals are very different and if you assume the usual norms of the real world then sorry boss, you are at the wrong place. All your profiles, all your blogs, all your scrapbooks are open and public. If you think that you need a private space then you should not be over here. Why do you create profiles - so the others can see you in them. Why do you write blogs - so the others can read your thoughts through them. Why do you have scrapbooks - so the others can communicate with you. Now, these are the basic principles behind these tools. So, now if you have made your profile or your blog or your scrapbook or any such thing public you can't expect people not to read them or analyse them or do whatever they want to do with it. Yes, there are now tools available to allow you certain level of privacy so if you want that 'privacy' then use them! But assuming that privacy is default is sucidal. Its the other way round beacuse the system is made on the principles of openness.

In short, every system has some basics that govern it and drive it. One should not forget those basics for one's own good. The principles of web 2.0 are based upon user interactions and user ownership and when you are using any such medium you are signing an invisible contract of acceptance of those rules, so you can't complain later.