Tuesday, August 5, 2008

The read/write web - a primer

I'll refer to web 2.0 and the read/write web quite a bit in this blog. Here's an overview of what they mean:

What is it? Tim O'Reilly defines it as:
...the business revolution in the computer industry caused by the move to the internet as platform, and an attempt to understand the rules for success on that new platform.
While that definition is the standard, it's too dense. For educators, there are some basic features of it.

• It is free (for all intents and purposes), which in the computer world means it is "open"
• It is internet-based, meaning it is "accessible"
• It uses rss and tagging. This makes it manageable to use, which gets referred to as a "push" technology (it comes to us, the consumer, instead of us having to go to it).
• It also allows people to easily make and share web content (the "write" portion of the read/write web)
• It creates opportunities for feedback, meaning it is "collaborative".

So, web 2.0 really is a collective noun for a bunch of tools that all feature these attributes. These tools are different, despite their common attributes. There are some situations where the one tool is useful, and some for others. Here are the most commonly used:

1. Blogging - which you are currently looking at. It is an online journal which allows commenting from viewers
2. Wikis - An online collaborative document that people build together. The most famous example is Wikipedia, but there are many uses outside of making an encyclopedia-like reference tool.
3. Podcasting - Basically an audio blog. It is an audio recording, whether that it is a radio show, music, a parody, a debate, or whatever spoken activity.
4. Really Simple Syndication (RSS) - A protocol that allows a person to subscribe, meaning you don't have to go check for the latest entry... it will be pushed down to your computer. This applies to blogs, wikis, podcasts, social networks, and social bookmarks alike.
5. Aggregator - A program that collects your RSS feeds so that you can quickly read all the new entries
6. Social bookmarking - A tool that allows you to put tags with your online bookmarks, and therefore share tags with other users.
7. Social networks - While Myspace and Facebook are common examples, there are many other uses of a community of users pursuing common knowledge (Nings are good examples).
8. Photosharing - Posting photos for others to see and comment, such as Flickr.
9. Videosharing - Same as above, but for videos, like Youtube
10. Geotagging - Putting geographical information, such as latitude and longitude, in a tag with items. People who geotag photos often share them via Google Earth.

There are many more uses of web 2.0 technology... this is just a primer. But it provides the terminology most used in the educational field.

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