Critical Perspectives on Web 2.0

First Monday is a peer-reviewed journal about the Internet. Almost always good reading — but this month’s special feature Critical Perspectives on Web 2.0 is double-plus good.

The Preface gives the flavour:

Web 2.0 represents a blurring of the boundaries between Web users and producers, consumption and participation, authority and amateurism, play and work, data and the network, reality and virtuality. The rhetoric surrounding Web 2.0 infrastructures presents certain cultural claims about media, identity, and technology. It suggests that everyone can and should use new Internet technologies to organize and share information, to interact within communities, and to express oneself. It promises to empower creativity, to democratize media production, and to celebrate the individual while also relishing the power of collaboration and social networks.

But Web 2.0 also embodies a set of unintended consequences, including the increased flow of personal information across networks, the diffusion of one’s identity across fractured spaces, the emergence of powerful tools for peer surveillance, the exploitation of free labor for commercial gain, and the fear of increased corporatization of online social and collaborative spaces and outputs…

Much, much food for thought in the essays. Expect to see it reflected — somehow — in my writing over the coming week.

Hat-tip to Professor Roger Clarke, who says, “I thought my paper was reasonably critical of the phenomenon, but these make me seem like a pussycat (or maybe a respectable academic?).”