Jun 05 2008
While writing an article for Business In Vancouver Magazine about the evolution of the Internet in China, I was asked to define, in a word, exactly what Web 2.0 meant. At first, I was a little taken aback. After all, entire books could be written on the subject. How was I supposed to define such an ubiquitous yet nebulous catch-phrase of the technorati era?
Fortunately, copious amounts of caffeine and a looming deadline were the spark of inspiration. Web 2.0 in a word? Freedom.
Web 2.0 is an Internet filled with websites and platforms that are community-based, promoting communication through new media (blogs/forums/video and audio sharing platforms) and sharing of ideas and technology.
If the old Internet was a city filled with brilliant but unresponsive giant billboards built by individuals with 100 per cent control of their message, Web 2.0 is a collection of giant town hall meetings involving hundreds of millions of people, where the message is what most people say it is.
Web 2.0 basically means free (as in “democratic”) Internet. That’s what makes the current situation in China so compelling, as technology and web development businesses ultimately have to adapt the free model of the Internet we’re used to in North America to the needs and rules that exist in that country.
Vancouver’s own tech community is involved in China’s burgeoning new media scene that may ultimately have an effect on the larger political culture of a country that many people think will be the dominant power in the 21st century. My article in BIV, Internet Technology To Grapple With The Great Firewall of China, just scratches the surface of a much larger story that’s evolving very fast.