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The Web 2.0 Non Debate

I was inspired to write this post after reading Jo’s excellent blog

Recently I have seen any number of blog posts and newspaper articles discussing this seasons exciting buzz phrase “Web 2.0” in relation to the future of the professional journalist.

Much of the debate seems to center around Web 2.0 being a “good thing” to be embraced or a “bad thing” that should be done away with .
Quite apart from the fact the genie is well and truly out of the bottle the question in its self is almost nonsensical. Web 2.0 is neither good nor bad it simply is.

Breaking Down Barriers

The blog and the wiki are the technologies that underly Web 2.0, but they no more define it than a printing press defines a newspaper, or an FM transmitter defines radio. The crux of Web 2.0 is that an individual can now publish to a potentially limitless audience without the barrier of cost and technical expertise. Framed in this way it is clear that web 2.0 is the the most recent in a long line of ways in which it has become easier to communicate the written word.

Holding Back The Tide

Fourteenth century monks transcribing the bible by hand gave way to the printing press which in time led to Offset Printing, Word Processing and DTP. The common factor between all these advances is that at every step publishing becomes faster and cheaper and skilled labor is replaced with an automated process. It’s pointless to ask if these advances should be permitted. They were inevitable and irrepressible. Put simply if you oppose Web 2.0 you are on the wrong side of history and noble as that might be history is written by the victor and does not look back fondly on the Ludite however many cotton jennies they might smash.
It should be blindingly apparent to anyone reading this article that I am not a trained journalist and therefore I don’t intend to weigh in on the debate over the position of the NUJ on citizen journalists and the like. However the flood is coming and it would seem somewhat foolish to focus on holding back the tide in preference to booking some boat building lessons.

Published 11 Nov 2007

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