I’ve been working in the IT industry for about 8 years now. I entered in to the IT world at the height of the .com boom doing Flash animation and moved from that to network support, administration and currently I am the IT director for a small school district in Arizona. During this time I’ve been able to watch the transformation of the web experience from the initial commercial driven content to the now prevalent user driven Web 2.0. I have to say that I like where it’s going, however it’s been an almost conflicting experience for me to make the conversion.
When I started, outside of the gaming community and IRC, my web experience was very secluded. I would shop online, get news and other information like driving direction, etc., but the general attitude in using the web was, “be cautious” and “protect your identity.” Additionally, commercial companies were using the web solely as an extension of their brick and mortar entities. While these companies would try to collect data on where and what users were clicking, there was never any real effort to gather user input or to create an interactive experience. There weren’t many communities or social networking spaces. As a user, I was always wary of where I would enter my personal information. This is where my conflict begins.
Web 2.0 is a completely different philosophy. It’s about open exchange of information, user driven content… basically an open window to the life, thoughts, habits, experiences of anyone who embraces this new ideal. The results have been very positive. Web communities like Viddler, Facebook, Flickr, Twitter, and a whole host of others are the new standard. Commercial websites are moving away from the “we’ll tell you what you want” mentality to a more open exchange with consumers. They’re soliciting user feedback and creating spaces for consumers to exchange information with each other. Blogging has become a force to be reckoned with by the mainstream media and podcasting and videocasting are becoming more and more prevalent.
For me, the struggle has been overcoming the mentality of anonymity that dominated my introduction to the WWW. There’s a level of trust that must be accepted and that is a new modus operandi for me. Am I okay with putting my face out there? How do I feel about sharing who I am with the rest of the world? Does the rest of the world even care? How do I cope with the need to protect my identity vs. the interest in becoming a more active member of the Web 2.0 generation? And ultimately… Why do I even want to do this? What’s the reward?
Certainly this new frame of thinking opens up the opportunity for abuse. There are plenty of people out there who take advantage of the more open community, but overall I think the potential benefits far outweigh the risks.
So how about it Web 2.0 people? Has your experience been the same? Why do you want to participate? Do you have the same reservations to overcome?