Using various Web 2.0 tools such as Blackboard, Twitter, blogs and online media, students in the Bachelor of Internet communications Unit Web101 discussed a variety of topics over the course of thirteen weeks. These topics ranged from the advent of the Internet to the current shift towards the connective experiences of Web 2.0. This reflection will cover a selection of some of the better known Web 2.0 platforms and tools covered in the unit, the way in which these enhance collaboration and communication, and some of the ways in which this might have the potential to impact upon the everyday user.
Implemented originally in the 1960′s to share information by NASA, the Internet is a network of computers joined by other computers. The development of the Hypertext transfer protocol (HTTP) by Tim Berners-Lee gave users a common playground in which to collaborate. Because computers and operating systems come in all shapes and sizes, run different operating systems, and use different browsers, a common language, known as Hypertext Mark-up Language was developed (Doug Englebart Institute, 2008). This language tells a browser what to display, and how to display it, and forms the underlying principle of the World Wide Web.
Web 2.0 is the term given to the shift from a mostly read only web to the interactive and user- generated content we know today. The development of applications on the web such as ‘Blogger’ and other similar publication tools, and the advent of high-speed connections make it easy for the average person to upload, create, and publish content. Subsequently networks and communities form around asynchronous conversations and people are connecting while they read and share (Rettburg, 2008). Conversations happen when readers comment on blog posts or news articles, and interactivity occurs when a user ‘likes’ or ‘dislikes’ a page or a link in social networking sites.
Wikis are an example of Web 2.0 tools, the best known of which is ‘Wikipedia’, in which such collaboration happens. Wikis can be added to by anyone and, as part of the unit, students were required to do so, and in addition, the Wiki editor is web browser-based, meaning you do not have to be a web-design expert to use it. Furthermore, an interesting aspect of wikis is their ‘real time’ development, contributors often making entries as events happen as shown in the video footage of Wikipedia entries of the bombings in London (travelinlibrarian, 2006). In “The official 'Wikis' activity thread” on Blackboard, it appeared that most students were unaware of the history pages, discussion pages, and the reputation system, reminiscent of EBay’s feedback scores (2010). A report by Anthony, Smith and Williamson speculates that it is a sense of community and kudos that encourage high quality in registered users posts, and a pride in sharing expertise in non registered user’s contributions (2007). This system of user-based regulation is purported to keep the Wikipedia valid....