Web 2.0: The decimation of the Medium is the Message
The words 'Web 2.0' are - in my opinion - probably overused. In many cases from what I can find, the definitions are generally vague. This doesn't mean that I disagree with the SPIRIT of Web 2.0. This is probably the best notion that I can define -that every explanation I have come across has painted a positive picture of the possibilities and benefits.
In my opinion, the essence of Web 2.0 boils down to a second generation of web-usage that encourages user-generated content. Forums, blogs, and tools of communication such as real-time conference calls are all benefits that allow for faster parsing of information from one community to another. This interactivity has many applications; one great example is the ability for activists around the world to share strategies to plan protests and affect social change.
This usage of Web 2.0 can also enable empowerment in women as well- and this traces back to the pureness of the Internet.
The web is currently the world's best voice equalizer - anyone with a connection and an idea can broadcast their voice the same as anyone else. This translates into a better chance for women to be treated on the same footing as men. Online, women do not have to fight as much the often male-based bias or censorship that goes on in traditional media (such as TV or radio).
Traditionally too, the anonymous nature of the Net affords an advantage for women to raise their profile. For example, on a forum or blog post, a female's ideas or articles will be judged with less bias, as many members concentrate more on the CONTENT instead of the face BEHIND the content.
With Web 2.0, however, the anonyminity is being stripped away as more websites use name-based user profiles. While there are some disadvantages, this also affords women a chance to raise their profile online so that they become famous and judged with merit. In other words, their opinions will be respected and have weight offline.
Web 2.0 has been empowering already through the real-time communication with activists around the world via Skype. In general, these conversations end up being posted on forums. The information is free and open to new input. Even non-editable content - like press releases - can quickly be put up and decimated. This information can travel fast and help can be sent far. For example, a campaign I am involved in uses real time video chat to hash out ideas and organize actions, as members are from around the world. We use Google Docs to repost ideas, and Facebook to spread the word about meetings and get input. Throughout this process everything is ultimately attributed to Web 2.0. We owe our organized state to this interactivity as we try to correct injustices in the world.
Contacts around the world are now connected and the only thing keeping voices apart is the time difference. The 'global village', like Marshall McLuhan predicted, has never been a more apt name.