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You change the World 2.0

There is some significant symbolic and historical value in the gesture that the popular Time Magazine exercised this month. It may be remembered as one of the signs of historic change for decades to come. Time Magazine declared you the person of the year because you changed the world. Internet opened its doors to you and you dared to enter, raise your voice and cooperate on making the magic happen. You connected, sent the signal and the conversation ensued.

Now the representative of an old media conglomerate congratulates you, for you outperformed them, did what they could not. The network effect has been recognized. "When simple elements create complex systems, choice is multiplied, power is distributed and the system finds the best way. It's not the cells, it's the system.". You are the simple element (an individual), in a complex system (the network of individuals). By participation, not isolation, you change the world. We could almost interpret this gesture by Time Magazine as a capitulation of the old world to the new world that you, me and the girl next door created by simply typing away on our blogs, shooting our own videos, making our own tunes, writing our own code... and sharing it with the world.

Time wrote:

It's a story about community and collaboration on a scale never seen before. It's about the cosmic compendium of knowledge Wikipedia and the million-channel people's network YouTube and the online metropolis MySpace. It's about the many wresting power from the few and helping one another for nothing and how that will not only change the world, but also change the way the world changes.

How did it come to this? Web 2.0?

Technology that was needed for this sort of universal empowerment has been in the hands of the world for long, but we didn't realize its full potential until recently. Internet is that technology, probably the most revolutionary culmination of innovation in human history. When electricity was invented, who would have dreamed that this flow of electrons would one day power machines connected in an international network covering the whole planet, empowering hundreds of millions of individuals across the world. But it is here today, reaching its new milestones.

From the start, internet was supposed to serve the interaction and cooperation between people. Web extended this vision further. It is just that it took the world a decade to realize the full potential of this interaction and understand the new possibilities. This misunderstanding, at least partly, led to the dotcom boom. New entities were established on the web in a one way, "we-serve-you-consume" fashion expecting millions to flock and start feasting on it. It did not happen. The plan failed. This was not the way web was supposed to work. And today, as the world finally starts to grasp the nature and potential of the web, they dubbed this new realization with a name that implies a new web was created, whereas the only thing new is the new understanding and perception of the web and subsequent use of technology to take advantage of this newly discovered potential. Web 2.0 is not a new version of the web. It is a newly discovered vision.

It is a "let's try this again, and do it right this time" kind of sentiment. It might just be working.

Time Magazine seems to have gotten it right and wrong at the same time:

Time wrote:

The tool that makes this possible is the World Wide Web. Not the Web that Tim Berners-Lee hacked together (15 years ago, according to Wikipedia) as a way for scientists to share research. It's not even the overhyped dotcom Web of the late 1990s. The new Web is a very different thing.

It is not really a very different thing. Doesn't the sharing of research among scientists fit the following description of the web?

Time wrote:

It's a tool for bringing together the small contributions of millions of people and making them matter.

And some of those millions of people are scientists as well. It is just that they are no longer the only ones sharing. We all are. The web hasn't changed. We changed, our understanding, perception and practice.

Time wrote:

Silicon Valley consultants call it Web 2.0, as if it were a new version of some old software. But it's really a revolution.

Indeed, it is a revolution in understanding of the potential that the web was seemingly hiding from us all along.

There is nothing particularly wrong or bad about applying the term "Web 2.0" to this new understanding of the web as long as we really don't start to think the new web is being built. It is merely being extended and improved upon, reflecting our desires to explore its full potentials.

Everything 2.0

People are getting obsessed about the newness of things, the seeming revision of everything, the new second version, the 2.0. Maybe it is because the network reaches in basically every pores of our society. There is almost no activity that is not in some way connected to it. The Web 2.0 mindset is hence spreading on to all these other areas as if the world is looking at the network it created, as a mirror, finding flaws and trying to revise itself to fix them. A positive development, certainly.

If that seems too optimistic in light of the negative forces of the world, the monopolies, the persecution of file sharers, etc. note that none of these forces tend to associate themselves greatly to the 2.0 movement. This revision of the world, ultimately hurts them as they fail to let go of the traditional ways, fighting till their last breath.

The 2.0 movement, when understood as a drive to revise the world into something better, is inherently positive.

For example, Business 2.0 would then refer to businesses which shatter the traditional practices and adopt new, more open minded ways of doing business, propagating a new perspective towards business at large.

Free Software, Free Culture

Ever heard of GNU/Linux? 2006 was a year that skyrocketed this operating system into the mainstream, mindshare-wise, and although it is still struggling to penetrate the desktop markets due to the strong traditional "1.0" forces like Microsoft's monopoly, it perfectly fits the "2.0 movement". GNU/Linux is Free Software, created in collaboration and through sharing of code rather than in proprietary isolation and lock down. Everyone who knows a little about GNU/Linux knows that this OS wasn't created by any one person or company. It was created by individuals like you and me, working together over the network. Companies picked it up, created their own versions, but not without help of these individuals.

They even tried to bend it to somehow impose their control over it and make it their own, like Microsoft is trying to these days, but they fail because of another novelty, a "License 2.0" if you will (even though the license's new version is actually the third one), the GNU GPL legal shield being revised today in a true 2.0 fashion, through an open and cooperative process.

Lawrence Lessig wrote a book on Free Culture, partly inspired by the Free Software movement, and continues to talk about a read-write culture of creative participation rather than a locked down read-only culture of isolation and consumership. Today, many of his words in this book ring true. The people are using their voice and demanding freedom to participate rather than just consume. The extremist copyright protection is being criticized, with a growing popularity of more balanced and less restrictive Creative Commons licenses. The DRM, the ultimate defective by design anti-technology, is becoming ever more infamous, to a point that even Bill Gates doesn't have many good things to say about it.

The old world has to give up at some point. We are glad that the change is underway and that "you", us the people, are driving it.

Let's just keep it up!

Thank you
Your fellow blogger
Danijel Orsolic

Comments

Nice article Daniel, it's

Nice article Daniel, it's nice to see that Time Magazine can see that 'we' are the 'person of the year' (though didn't 'the blogger' come second in this last year?).

And by the way it's 'feasting' not 'feisting' Eye

What do you mean the blogger

What do you mean the blogger came second?

Btw, fixed the 'feasting' word. Thanks. Smiling

IIRC last year when Bono and

IIRC last year when Bono and the Gates won 'person of the year' there was wide speculation that Bloggers were going to win due to the vast surge in blogging - though I may be mixing it up with something else.

I see. Well that was last

I see. Well that was last year. Smiling

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