Monday, July 9, 2007

Web 2.0/Library 2.0 thoughts

Obviously I have knowledge of what these technologies are and I've had experience with their predecessors as well. As someone who has designed web sites for people and looked closely at WHY you would want to put you or your business out there, I think that Web 2.0 technology is a mixed bag.
One of the main attractions to the average person seems to be that it's quick and easy to get yourself out there on the web. Prior to this you would have to create a web site from scratch complete with layout, graphics, navigation and even embed any tags or search engine features you might need. With this technology, all of that is already prepared for you and it's easy enough to fill in the blanks. On the other hand, many of the blogs and social networking sites you find on the web look very much alike. They are meant to be cookie cutter simple so that anyone can do it. Not very unique or customizable. A few years ago web designers were talking about how a web site is all about CONTENT. You can have the prettiest graphics and wild animation and sound but what is your site without some good material inside? The result: loads of content in Web 2.0! It's almost nothing BUT content. The key to the whole thing now seems to be finding and sorting through all of that content which is where many of these tools we are looking at come into play. Now obviously there is good content and bad content. Who decides what content is put out there? Nobody! That's right, it's a free for all. So anyone with a connection to the internet can post all day long about Paris Hilton's prison hotel room. They can even be joined by millions of others who share the same interest. Scary! Thankfully we can control what we are looking for but I believe that slogging through too much irrelevant junk when searching for something important is a big turn off for most people. When it comes to research and using Web 2.0 for library purposes, this might be a big obstacle to overcome. After all the quality of the results are what is most important in that regard.
I have something for you to consider: Why are almost all of these Web 2.0 tools, blogs, youtubes and similar services FREE?


Blogs, posts, and quickview results for the "web 2.0" search yielded a lot of the same results. Of course blogs are made up of posts so there were many more posts than blogs. The quickview tab seemed to give a quick overview of blog posts, videos and pictures so it really was a quick scan of the MOST relevant items in those catagories. I think that of them all, I preferred the "blog" results since that seemed to focus attention on complete blogs related to my search topic.
As for popular searches and blogs... WOW. The things some people will go out of their way to look for simple amazes me. LOL. There seemed to be a good selection of blogs but also results for movie searches and celebrities. I wasn't a bit surprised to find the iPhone as one of the most popular results for blogs and posts. The top videos section was much like a popularity contest for YouTube videos. As long as I can narrow down my searches to the things that I find interesting then I will find that Technorati is a useful tool.
I think that something of note here is that blogs and the tools that catalog them are all written by people like you and I. Much of the articles and news you see on the web in the past has been published by news agencies and other professional sources. The difference between the two is something that I think sets this apart from what we've seen in the past.

All about bookmarking things that are interesting or important to you. One thing that seems pervasive when learning about all of these services is that you had better be prepared to "put yourself out there". If you don't want people worldwide to know so much about you then you won't want to be putting your information in places like this. However, if you want to find people and sites that share similar interests, then this is exactly how you would go about it. One of their guidelines is that you should bookmark or tag every site that you find interesting or relevant to what you are looking for. The more you do this, the more everything seems to come together and almost focus it's attention on you. The same can be said for Technorati and some of the other similar services.
Originally when designing web pages, you would have to put tags or "metatags" embedded in the sites HTML code so that search engines could "crawl" the world wide web and find your site and then catalog it for others to find more easily. This is just an evolution of that same process that gives non-technical people an easier way to do the same thing on their own.