Web 2.0 and air freshener

Web 2.0 is often talked about in terms reminiscent of an advert for air freshener: spray it on and there will be a major improvement in the quality of life, or at least of your service.

Add tags or an RSS feed and you will be future-ready. You will smell of roses.

Now, of course, this is partly because Web 2.0 is used in different ways. And, yes, there are indeed many places where such features will be helpful.

Influenced by Tim O'Reilly's various commentaries, I have spoken about Web 2.0 in terms of concentration and diffusion. It has not just been about features, it has been about reconfiguration of organizations and services in a network environment (think of the impact of Amazon or Wikipedia, for example).

In this context, I was interested in Andy Powell's comments on two recent UK discussions about Web 2.0, one about appropriate responses by CILIP, the professional organization, and one about a recent report on Web 2.0 and university education. The post is in part a response to Brian Kelly. Brian has a useful overview of the CILIP discussion.

In each case, the conversations seem to underemphasise the systemwide reconfiguring aspect of the network, and emphasize change in terms of adding communication or social networking features to existing structures. How will those structures themselves change in a network world?

Or, to put it a different way, if Web 2.0 changes everything, I see no reason why that doesn't apply as much to professional bodies and universities as it does to high street bookshops. [The role of universities in a Web 2.0 world]

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