Hyperlinked Society: Web 2.0

I’ve seen some discussion lately on the iDC list on whether Web 2.0 is just another buzzword meant to drove a new dot.com boom. The panel today begins with Nicholas Carr and Martin Nisenholtz, talking almost chiefly about the economics of “unbundling” content.

Jimmy Wales follows on this with an interesting economic position. He notes that he has 3 employees, rather than 150 for Times Companies. He suggests that it’s not the case (necessarily) that community media will chase out traditional “paid writers writing a newspaper,” but rather a hybrid model.

Ethan Zuckerman suggests that traditional, mainstream models of reporting are imperfect, particularly in covering foreign news, which often did not rise to the interest of editors. Because of the interconnected nature of gatekeeping, it allows for the voices that can aggregate their own audiences.

Carr suggested that Wikipedia is on its last legs. It has evolved to increasingly bureaucratized structure, and that there is a myth of creation for Wikipedia that isn’t representative of its real creative process. He worries that Wikipedia “sucks the air out of” a market for commercial competitors to a free alternative.

On the latter question Wales responds “I don’t know, I don’t care.” He thinks that it may be the case, or may not, and that there is evidence that it may not negatively impact sales of the “traditional” product.

The New York Times “MyTimes” is an effort to get at some of the Web 2.0 goodness–meaning market share (?). I wonder whether it’s possible to dance with user involvement (remember the Wikitorial episode), and still support traditional forms of paid professional journalism.

A lot of focus on how the hybrid works. Clearly, it is not a question of either/or. But it seems that from the commercial participants, the issue is that free (as in beer) media kills the possibility of any real collaboration. This seems to recapitulate the free software / open source argument. It seems to me that this hybrid has been working well in software, it doesn’t strike me that it should be particularly difficult.

Carr worries that hyperlinked society means a world in which superficial understanding is the norm. Really, it seems that the depths change, from existing areas of thought to new ways of thinking. But there is a shift. The question is always one of what gets replaced, and of worth. But “depth” versus “superficial” isn’t really what it is about.

And in conclusion, this is why I do not liveblog.

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