“Money and language have something in common: they are nothing and they move everything… they have the power of persuading human beings to act, to work, to transform physical things”
– Franco Berardi
Language, unlike money, is a power we are all accorded. We are all able to speak, to communicate, to share our ideas. And yet the question is, to whom? With whom?
Until recently, the ability to distribute and share our language and ideas with a larger group of people, to use this power on a larger scale, was limited to a select few. The top-down approach of content creation that embodied web 1.0 meant that users were restricted to being passive consumers of static information and ideas, unable to actively contribute, collaborate or share.
Web 2.0 and 3.0 have changed this. These are not technological advancements as such, but rather shifts in the use of existing technologies. The power is firmly in the hands of the end user. Users now have the ability to create content, share digital resources, control and combine data in new ways through situational applications and mashups and define the relevance of content through tagging and bookmarking. Rather than the creator determining where content is shared, what it is used for and how it is assembled, the end-user now has influence over this, too. One example of this are open-source applications, where the code is freely available (rather than proprietary as in web 1.0) for users to look at, modify, and use to create new programs if they wish.
A strong focus on the user experience is also a key element of web 2.0 and 3.0, with technologies such as Ajax and REST allowing browsers to update individual sections of a page in a fluid way, rather than updating the entire page. These updates are done asynchronously; according to when the last action was completed, rather than at regular intervals. The result? A rich, interactive user experience that is customized each and every time. This seemingly small change reflects the overall tendency for the end user to define the online experience, rather than merely respond to it. You’re on Google Maps, looking up an address. With each letter added, type assist changes the selections in the drop down menu. This responsiveness to the the users input is a key element of web 2.0, and it has changed our online experience.
The shift from web 1.0 to web 2.0 and web 3.0 reflects a wider power shift throughout society. The ability for anyone to create, collaborate and moderate is the ability for anyone to exercise their power of language.
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