What is the "Social Web"? What is "web 2.0"?
The social web refers to the use of the internet as a tool for sharing, collaborating and communicating. This participatory use of the Internet was initially labelled "Web 2" or "web 2.0" to contrast it with web 1.0 given to web as a collection of read-only, static web pages. Where web 1.0 (a retrospective name) encouraged finding and collecting information, web 2.0 tools encourage creating information with and for others.
Web 2.0 tools also favour a move away from the desktop-bound to the online-based, enabling users to access tools and resources from any device with internet access at any time.
E.g. instead of storing bookmarks in a browser downloaded onto a single machine, users of social bookmarking sites (delicious, diigo, BibSonomy) create online accounts, to which they can add sites and pages they find interesting and which they can access from other computers and mobile devices. Recently, this principle has evolved into the concept of "cloud computing": services, including computer programmes, are accessed by end-users on demand (like drawing electricity from the National grid as and when required).
Some of the terms used on this page are explained in the buzzwords glossary below.
Sharing & collaboration
Web 2 is as much about uploading as downloading, allowing users to share their files, knowledge, thoughts with each other easily. A famous, early, example of online collaboration is the user-created encylopedia wikipedia. Examples of image and video file sharing sites are flickr and youTube.
Blogs (web logs) are online shared journals, which can range from cutting edge to banal. Sites with frequently updated content (news magazines, blogs) can be fed into a feed reader, e.g. Google Reader, using RSS, a system of news aggregation (from many sites into one). This short video, Introduction to RSS in plain English explains RSS very clearly.
To organise shared online resources (files, posts) users can tag them. Tags are keywords defined ad libitum by an individual user to organise information according to their own needs. Tags collect all tagged items in a bundle, including those of other users in the same network, and link to them.
Free and collaborative tagging creates a "folksonomy" system of classification, i.e. categories created by 'ordinary folk'.
Most web 2.0 applications support online sociability, encouraging users to make links with others through tagging, open and/or private groups, etc.
A collection of tags can be visually depicted as a tag cloud:
Twitter is a tool that combines basic social networking with microblogging, a fast and effective way of sharing links or short statements (no longer than 140 characters). Tumblr is another microblogging platform which allows slightly longer posts; yammer is similar to twitter but set up to be used internally in organisations.
Because of their collaborative nature, web 2.0 tools and applications can prove very useful for learning, teaching and research:
- organise and share research papers & references
- hone your / your students' writing skills with a regular blog
- create and/or engage with your online community of practice
- channel important updates to your students with RSS in Moodle
- and more.
If you are interested in learning more about social networks, online bookmarking, blogging, etc, particularly about how to employ them effectively in the context of learning and teaching, check out our training programmes.
Have a look at our page dedicated to emerging technologies.
If you have any further questions, email email@example.com
avatar - visual representation of a person in a virtual world (e.g. Second Life)
[anything] 2.0 - a faddy but now established way of referring to something having received a web makeover. E.g. "education 2.0" -bringing high tech web concepts to simple educators.
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