VOF Week 1: A whole new world
I felt like Princess Jasmine in Disney’s Aladdin, as I was rather forcefully introduced to what I now know is Web 2.0… a whole new world was before me, new fantastic points of view, with new horizons to pursue. It was 2006 and I was thrust into making a presentation on Web 2.0 at a workshop when a resource person had to suddenly pull out. I had to figure it out – and fast!
As I have come to realise, the web, in all its incarnations, offers something for everyone. And I think that as the web became more interactive, participatory and inclusive (i.e. hello Web 2.0!), we – the consumers of this media – became more selective. Many of us have joined networks, online forums, activity sites etc that we never visit anymore. I had to decide, Facebook or Twitter or both? My Space or YouTube or more thematic video sites, like Witness? The choices, the vast buffet of web 2.0, can often be overwhelming.
And that’s why I think the benefits, advantages and the immense “pro’s” of Web 2.0 can only be defined by each user. While it has the potential to be inclusive, allow more immediate dialogue and interaction, undreamt-of networking opportunities and a platform for every voice, from anywhere – it doesn’t necessarily mean the full potential is used by everyone, everywhere, all the time.
While the social interaction and networking have been perhaps the most popular feature of the Web 2.0 phenomenon, it has given new life and a much needed shot of adrenalin to those of us working on social issues – including those working for women’s empowerment. It provides a platform for all voices to have an equal say, and it also provides anonymity which has brought out so many real stories that are the most moving, most empowering voices in our midst. It helps us share our information, access other’s information, and to band together in like-minded networks.
Unfortunately, the web has not levelled the playing field, provided access to all, or any of the other sugary nonsense that gets bandied about by those pushing “ICT for all”. The voiceless are still those without access to the web. The marginalised are still on the outside looking in. But as the technology spreads, access gets cheaper and the web becomes an accepted tool for “the masses”, I believe it can one day be a tool for everyone who wants it.
As for me, I’ve waded in and am loving it! I can have my say, I can take action on issues happening on other continents, I can watch and laugh, I can read and learn, and I can be me. I’ve only selected a few items from the web 2.0 buffet, and while I’ve spat out some samplings, many have become favourite dishes.
So, like Princess Jasmine on her magic carpet, I can only say : I'm like a shooting star, I've come so far, I can't go back to where I used to be….
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