Distinctions of Today’s Web Phenomena

3 03 2007

An interesting post by Doc Searls where he questions the distinctions that are being used today, like “Social Media” and “Web 2.0”. It opened up the following questions and speculations for me:

First, I listened to Doc Searls as saying that “Web 2.0” and “Social Media” are not about some magical new world which will bring us out of all the “real” problems of what it is to be human. I listen to him saying that these distinctions have that quality. Instead, he calls importance to focusing on the daily practices that he performs, bringing a simple, “real” quality to the his life. That was quite nice.

And this brings up a question of how to look at these distinctions. It is grounding to look at (and make) distinctions by examining the patterns and reality of us as human beings. But distinctions, at the same time, show us possibilities of the future while invoking the past. For example, “social media,” for me, brings forth my story of media (shaped by Yochai Benkler)– a way of human beings to show others events and stories about the world, which has become (in my lifetime) a less responsible domain of our communal space. And the “social” aspect of “social media” brings forth a story of a potential future which could resolve some of the breakdowns in the past by organizing social/communal collaboration in certain ways. So how to resolve these two temporal domains of a distinction: how it shows what we are doing now, and what breakdowns and possibilities it shows us as we direct ourselves to the future?

Doc Searls also said the following, “It’s natural to want to lump technologies and practices together into categories that bear Greater Significance. But for some reason we still drag along the limiting concepts that the new stuff should help us escape, no matter what we call it.” The second sentence triggers the question, “What does he mean by “drag along the limiting concepts…”?

Anyway, very cool post which got me struggling for a good hour. (And I am still not done doing so.)

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