Saturday, March 15, 2008

Web 3.0

I raised the topic of what I called Web 3.0 in class last week, and I promised to write about what I meant. Here it is. I think the place to start is by talking about what Web 2.0 means. I am writing in a W2.0 environment right now (my blog which I will repost inside our class wiki). I know many people have written about W2.0, and I will make no claim to being an expert, but I will give my take.

W2.0 is about what has been called the read/write web. Its native environment is the internet, and it is about communicating within this environment. It is a set of tools designed (and streamlined) to make this communication easy. Ease of use. Like this blog--I sign in, click a button, and have an easy textbox where I can type my thoughts. When I'm done, there at the bottom in a big orange rectangle is PUBLISH POST. Easy. Another aspect of "easy" with W2.0 is that most all W2.0 tools/applications are free and webnative. I don't have to pay anything to use them or host them. I just go to that site on the web where I have created an account and GO!

The problem, from my view, with many W2.0 tools is that this ease of use comes at a cost. I'll call it the template box. Most all W2.0 tools in order to facilitate ease of use have created nice square boxes for all content to fit within. This blog for instance is dominated by CSS. The same font throughout. The same page design throughout. I can choose a new template, but I have that same uniformity throughout. There is no way to change particular pieces of a blog site. The blog by setting up the CSS makes it easy. It gives me the power to post easily, but it also restricts me in many ways in the name of this ease of use.

What I see happening in W3.0 is that users will begin to have greater control to manipulate and customize their own actions within their tools. Think of all the options available to you for customizing text within MSWord--you may not have all of them in your blog, but you'd have a lot more than now.

If we think in the analogy of legos. Right now W2.0 gives us pre-made lego creations. The construction and design of the toy is already done for us. We play with what is given to us. In the W3.0 world, we will be given the ability to manipulate the pieces and make creations on our own (what they call in the lego world as "freestyle"). This form of creation makes me think of MOO. MOO, in fact, is part of my paradigm for W3.0. You can take objects and bring them into your space which is of your own creation and you can customize these object--make them into something completely new.

So how will that affect the teaching of writing? ...That will have to wait until next post.