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There Are Two Parts To The World Wide Web

the future of the web

the search engine was the king, now it’s social networking.

People had their own home page, now it’s grown to their own website. The blog was grown and grown, replacing webrings

to be developed

For several years the search engine was king. This was the place where everyone went to find content because all the information was so disorganised. Recently though this has changed. The way people use the world wide web has evolved. Whereas people in the past would create just one webpage with a little content people are now creating entire websites.

These websites are not websites  in the sense that they were back in the late nineties, rather they are profiles. It used to be that you’d create a static HTML page that would need to be updated manually through the hot metal code. With CGI-bin and later technologies, the nature of the homepage has changed.

Remember Geocities? It’s been replaced by myspace. Remember the discussion about web portals and yahoo and google were trying to corner the market to get the highest audience. That has changed. Look at Digg, Facebook, Bebo, twitter, Jaiku and Pownce. All of these websites are about one thing. Community. They are only interesting as long as your friends are members; no friends means no way of using it. I was a member of myspace for months before anyone I knew joined and by the time had joined I re-created a profile having forgotten the other profile.

It’s the same with Facebook. I joined it a few months before anyone from my environment started using it but recently everyone has started using Facebook to communicate. Not just this, they’re also uploading their lives to the web. So am I. There are two issues that are interesting to look at. For anyone wanting to do a dissertation why not look at the changing nature of privacy with the rise of the social networking website. When I was studying for my HND privacy was key and release forms were essential. Now it’s as though everyone is a publisher and the nature of privacy has changed. It goes along the lines of “Don’t upload anything too compromising or embarrassing”. Your network of friends can see everything. Friends from your high school days can see all your university friends and vice versa.

This promotes the expansion of social circles. Whereas in the past networks of friends were mutually exclusive due to location they are joined online. Take some videos of when you’re at a party in Switzerland and those in England can see it, and so can their friends if you so choose. It’s a shame you can’t select for only one network to see videos rather than others, for example, only London friends can see the London videos and Switzerland friends can see those. It would make uploading certain videos possible.

Anyway, the web has become personal. Within the last 6 months or so I’ve seen the web go from being about avatars and nicknames to being about real names and real networks. It’s about bringing the offline world online and vice versa. This is where I believe for there to have been a shift in perception of what the web is for. Almost everyone I know and see regularly is now on Facebook. It’s amusing to see how it’s become mainstream.

It’s as though Facebook has become a portal although not in the 1998 sense of the word. There is a new part of the internet. If you imagine the web to be like drupal then imagine that Yahoo and Geocities are the old gateways to the World Wide Web whilst various social networking websites are a new ad important portal with one major difference. These portals aggregate and distribute your content to your friends around the world. You’re no longer going online for research. You’re going online because you’re socialising. It’s replaced, at least partially, socialising in the real world whilst nonetheless providing a great way of sharing content. Both “user-generated” and “interactive” have become keywords in describing what the web is today.

In summary, whereas two or three years ago the Web was somewhere people came to find information for future use the web has evolved into an interactive user-generated medium. As a result of this, I think the world wide web has added another node to what purposes it serves.

Web 1.0: static and hard to interact anonymously vs web 2.0: highly interactive user-generated content where real names are now used, especially in places like Facebook.

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