Blog 7: From the internet to the web

Blog 7: From the internet to the web

The focus of phase 2 is truly on how the internet as a technological invention becomes a social artifact, used to facilitate everyday information exchange and interpersonal interactions. Ryan discusses in chapters 8, 9, and 10 the rise of the World Wide Web as a celebrated brain child of early internet evangelists. What I really enjoyed reading was chapter 10, where Ryan narrates the rise of mass collaboration on the web.

Many internet studies scholars focus on the use of the internet (here I use “internet” and “the web” interchangeably) for sharing and co-creation of information. Ryan mentions in chapter 10 that the rise of the social web has encouraged–and in many ways formalized–user-generated content. Some call this phenomenon the “2.0” of the internet. Whereas web 1.0 is usually referred to as a read-online platform, web 2.0 enables users to participate in the production process of information.

Media scholar Henry Jenkins calls this a participatory culture on the internet.

Jenkins asserts that the internet is a marketplace of ideas; no ones everything, but everyone knows something– so together users can help one another learn by contributing to a common repository of knowledge.

While it is fair that anyone should be able to contribute to online content, Ryan shows that there are processes in place to help ensure the accuracy, credibility, and usefulness of information generated by the average user. These processes–such as peer review–are borrowed from professional (academic) practices that trace back to as far as the 1600s, when the first academic journal was founded.

However, what’s different between print knowledge and information on the web is that the latter is “plastic” (in Ryan’s word). It means that online content tends to change to adapt to the needs to its user. Information are becoming just-in-time and best for the given context rather than a static form of texts carved into stoned monuments. Particularly important is that information can also be personalized for these contextual needs.

This brings me to my discussion questions:

  • In what forms do peer critiques manifest online?
  • What are the restrictions of the current web in terms of peer production of knowledge and information personalization?

Ryan, J. (2010). A history of the internet and the digital future. London, UK: Reaktion Books. [Phase 2: 8, 9, & 10]

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