It’s an odd term – “Web 2.0”. Many people have not even heard about it, many more think it’s overhyped rubbish, some people evangelise it and others think it’s already past it. So what exactly is it?
There are different opinions, but in its simplest form it’s the ability to write to the web rather than just read it – the Read Write Web. That’s it – perhaps not as groundbreaking as you may have thought. It’s not a new version of the web, you won’t need to use a new way to get to it, you may indeed have already been using it (and perhaps even creating it) for years. It’s not something easily defined, indeed it’s probably best thought of as an attitude rather than any one type of technology or development, a way of conceiving how to build and create on the web rather than some new development or tool that needs to be bought and installed.
So with all that in mind, what does it mean to the University? Why a Web Innovation Project?
It’s pretty clear that “Web 2.0” style technologies are changing the look and feel of the world wide web around us, transforming it from a place where the technically proficient have traditionally just disseminated information, into a place where just about anyone can create, collaborate and express themselves directly online without any specialist web expertise or knowledge. This has raised powerful questions about the nature of authorship, and of control and responsibility, challenging some old mantras of computer science and creating new models based on engagement and monitoring rather than exclusion and approval. This is exemplified by well known websites such as Facebook, Flickr, Twitter and Wikipedia, and further reflected in thousands more smaller websites and web applications like them.
In order to explore what these changes mean to an organisation like the University, and to further explore how we can harness some web 2.0 style innovations for own own needs, the Web Innovation Project was set-up. It has a broad remit, but will initially be focusing on:
- Web mapping and geolocation using products such as Google maps, streetview & earth
- The semantic web, microformats and “Linked Data”
- Touch & mobile technologies
We intend to practice what we preach, and will be blogging here regularly, as well as using many other web tools both to develop and to share what we are doing.