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Living the Web 2.0

The video Web 2.0 … The Machine is Us/ing Us by Michael Wesch that I posted last week made me think quite a lot about my personal relationship with Web 2.0 (or the Read/Write Web as some prefer to call it). I think that the concept of Web 2.0 can really be understood only if you use and explore its technologies and apply it on your own life. And I also think that reflecting on how Web 2.0 technologies affect our lives can provide additional valuable information. In this post I’d like to share with you my personal account and thoughts on what Web 2.0 means to me and what impacts it’s having on my daily life.

My typical day starts with a cup of coffee and a click on my browser icon. It’s strange now that I think about it, but the first thing I do in the morning (no matter what I have to do during a particular day) is to start my browser - Safari. I don’t stop to think - oh, I need my browser now! - I just do it. Just a few years ago I’d then type in the address of a news site, but now the first thing I check in my browser are the web feeds. I regularly try to organize and reduce the number of feeds I’m subscribed to, but usually I’m stuck between 50 or 100 feeds (and here I’m counting just the feeds I regularly read). I have my feeds organized in folders in Safari’s bookmark bar that is always visible. That allows me to see how many unread feeds I have at any given movement. It is a bit intrusive, but that’s the way I like it (most of the times). I’ve tried using applications and web sites to keep track of my feeds, but I always come back to Safari’s bookmark bar because it’s always there, always telling me hey! click on me, I’ve got news! And sometimes I do feel the pressure of all those unread feeds; I feel like I’m missing something if I don’t click them right away. Reading web feeds and following links they provide in a ways makes me feel connected. It gives me the feeling that I know what’s going on right now and what the most interesting topics on the net are.

The number of feeds makes me read a minimum of 10 posts a day (on a calm day that is), but it doesn’t just stop at reading and clicking links. Fact is that whenever I find an interesting post or link I immediately feel the need to share it. A few years ago I’d perhaps email or IM the link to family or friends, but now it’s just much more. I feel the need to share it with the world - I don’t want just friends and colleagues to read this link, I want to give everyone in the world that might be interested in a certain topic a chance to read it! And so I always make sure to share the really interesting posts/links at least on TeacherShare.org or/and Moodle.si. Isn’t that interesting?

Checking web feeds and sharing interesting links is just the beginning of my Web 2.0 connected day. Both activities continue throughout the day, no matter what I do. My browser is always with me, showing me new feeds, offering opportunities to share, to connect. During the day I of course do other things - research, write, create, innovate - and I think that now more than ever I also actively think about what I do, try to find meaning, try to extract valuable lessons etc. and what for? To share them on this blog.

Keeping a blog makes me an active seeker of content that will be interesting and relevant for you: the readers of my blog. I am now the editor of my personal channel and for this reason I feel a big responsibility for the “life” of my blog - it is up to me to keep it interesting, current and worth reading. And all this also makes my primary work as a researcher more engaging, and even more valuable and meaningful to me. I feel that I can do much more than just the task in front of me. I am constantly learning, collecting experiences and thinking about how they could be shared for others to read. I try to write at least one post per week about what I currently do, what I am thinking about, what questions I am trying to answer… and I love the way my blog “obligation” is keeping me busy and active. If I can’t find any new valuable ideas in my work I am motivated to go elsewhere. On other blogs, where I can even interact with the authors and readers of those blogs. I have in fact became an active seeker or ideas that I try to transform into new content that can be shared with the purpose of inspiring new ideas. Wow!

And though a lot of my usage of Web 2.0 technologies is work related, it certainly doesn’t stop when I stop working or thinking about work. In the evening when I try to relax and get away from the computer, usually my activities involve watching a movie, reading a book, playing games or just having a great conversation with my dear ones. One would think I forget Web 2.0 at this point - well, think again. The Web 2.0 is always at the reach of our hands. When deciding upon which movie to watch we go and check IMDB, see what other users say, or check out the list of the highest rated movies. The same happens when choosing books or games. It seems so normal that you look anything up on the net and see what others say - and in most cases what matters most is not the opinion of professional critics, but of ordinary people (though all persons of the year 2006 according to Times magazine).

I’m really amazed at what big part Web 2.0 plays in my life (and I in its life). In just a few years it has entered our lives from different doors and it’s growing stronger and more powerful days by day. And for this reason I agree with what Michael Wesch pointed out in his video - we really need to rethink a lot of things. Among these things I think that rethinking ourselves is one of the key points. We are being linked in previously unthinkable ways and our lives are being changed. What kind of changes is that bringing us? Are the changes improving our lives or crippling the social aspect of our analogue real lives as some fear?

The answers to these questions are many - and there should be. For me the most important changes are the feeling of connectedness, the feeling of responsibility, the need to share and the trust systems that the users of Web 2.0 are building among each other (just take for example Wikipedia). These are the changes I find most valuable and that I hope I (and others) will be able to keep and use not just for a better and more useful Web 2.0, but also to build a better future - together, by connecting are ideas and constructing new worlds.

Originally published at http://ialja.blogspot.com/2007/02/living-web-20.html