Article

Web 2.0

C.W. Anderson

in Communication

ISBN: 9780199756841
Published online April 2012 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780199756841-0072
Web 2.0

Preview

For the layperson, the phrase “Web 2.0” refers to online websites, such as YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook, along with digital practices, such as blogging and podcasting. For scholars of communication, technology, journalistic practice, and digital culture, however, Web 2.0 is a contested concept. Of apparently tremendous popular importance, Web 2.0 is considered by many academics to be little more than a successful marketing term that both obscures and overinflates certain social changes under the guise of business-friendly buzzwords. Web 2.0 is thus a concept burdened by traditional academic skepticism toward pop terminology, fierce debates about the agency of technology vis-à-vis other sociotechnical forces, and critical attitudes that see a deep injustice to the deployment of digital-utopian terminology in the service of capital. At the same time, however, the social trends uneasily encapsulated in the language of Web 2.0 appear to be of tremendous, if ill-defined, importance. Since the late 1990s a dramatic shift has occurred in the relationship between the producers and the consumers of symbolic goods, particularly in the online realm. This article attempts to strike a difficult balance in providing an understanding of Web 2.0 on its own terms, outlining the genealogy of the concept and giving insights into areas of digital culture and content creation to which the discourse on Web 2.0 at least partially refers. This discussion also goes beyond traditional bibliographic entries, such as articles in scholarly journals and academic books, to include blog posts and industry white papers. In effect, these white papers and manifestos are treated as “primary source documents.” At least until the scholarship on Web 2.0 solidifies into a more coherent form, some mastery of this primary source material will be essential. This article unfolds, first, by examining the history of the Web 2.0 concept and some of its earliest articulations. It then backtracks to look at earlier examples of so-called user-generated content, particularly those that problematize the historical understanding of Web 2.0 as a primarily technological phenomenon. Finally, it turns to an overview of the manner in which Web 2.0 concepts have been diffused throughout various scholarly domains, such as education, political economy, journalism studies, science studies, and others.

Article.  7012 words. 

Subjects: Communication Studies

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