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Web 2.0 describes the current World Wide Web platforms that emphasizes on communication, interaction and sharing of information. These platforms include: weblogs, wikis, delicious, and the social media. These platforms have played a major role in the transformation of communication and collaboration among the internet users. However, this essay will only focus on one platform, that is, weblogs. The essay will examine how weblogs have transformed people’s ways of communication and collaboration by taking a look at different premises and concepts among different authors.
Web 2.0 is a term used to describe changes in the online technologies, current web developments and the modern use of internet. Basically, Web 2.0 describes the contemporary changes in internet technologies that focus on communication, interaction and sharing of information. In real terms it is regarded as the “universal platform” in which other applications run (Best, 2006, p. 4). Thompson (2008) describes web 2.0 as “numerous web platforms and applications that enable users to develop and share internet information” (p. 1). On the other hand, Palloff and Pratt (2009) define web 2.0 as a “second generation World Wide Web providing advanced levels of user interface and collaboration” (p. 1).
The most important element of Web 2.0 is that it enables users to develop, share, participate and correspond. It differs from other platforms because it requires only basic computing skills, making it simple for users to develop and share or be in touch with the rest of the world (Thompson, 2008, p. 2). The nature of this technology makes it easier and trendy for users to share information with either a particular online group or general public. For example, academic institutions can use this technology to reach out to their students, staff and the community in general. Web 2.0 tools can also be used as a means of communication and collaboration between these stakeholders (Palloff & Pratt, 2009, p. 1).
Experts argue that the second generation World Wide Web came forward due to the desire of the present generation to express themselves through the Web and to communicate and interact with their friends/peers easily. However, the increasing use of web 2.0 is no longer restricted to the young people or individuals who have exceptional computing skills. At the moment, even adults are using this technology in large numbers. In addition, businesses are using it to reach out to consumers and the general public (Palloff & Pratt, 2009, p. 1). Since web 2.0 has numerous platforms (for instance, blogs, wikis and social media sites), this essay will mainly focus on one platform, that is, web blogs. Particularly, the essay will explore how web blogs have transformed people’s ways of communication and collaboration. The study will look at different premises and concepts and key arguments between different authors and their academic positions to find an answer to our study question.
Weblog (also known as Blog) is an online platform normally maintained by an individual or group of individuals with routine posts of comments, account of affairs, or other materials (Rettberg, 2008, p. 5). Thompson (2008) explains that “weblogs usually supply commentary or information on specific subjects, events or topics” (p.1). For this reason, weblogs are different from other platforms since their contents are updated on a regular basis and arranged in a sequential order. The latest entry appears at the pinnacle of the page. Notably, given the significance attached to the sequential order, weblogs can be viewed in narrative terms. However, because of the manner in which weblogs are created, they are regarded as unrestricted narrative in which the users can frequently interact via commentaries (Rettberg, 2008, p. 5).
A handful of weblogs were first discovered in the late 1997. At the beginning of 1999 there were approximately 23 known weblog pages mainly created by individual bloggers. Since then, more and more people started to jump into this bandwagon. The initial blogs were link-driven platforms created by technologically savvy individuals. These individuals were web enthusiasts who created weblogs for fun. The creation of the present blogs is still based on the original style. The current bloggers often present links both to hidden web pages and information worth noting. Such links are normally accompanied by the blogger’s comment (Blood, September 7). Expert bloggers may demonstrate the correctness or incorrectness of a news article or information therein; offer supplementary information relevant to the subject at hand; or basically add a view or a different point of view from the linked information. Generally, these comments are characterized by extraneous and on many occasions cynical tone (Blood, September 7).
Weblogs are swiftly transforming communication and information dissemination via the World Wide Web. Accessibility of information, its speedy dissemination and documentation through the weblogs offers a new standard way of communication in term of swiftness, convenience and ease of use. They also offer the technological means and a societal model for propagating not only significant information, but also supposedly irrelevant information. Therefore, weblogs integrate both the implicitness of groups on one hand and the exposition of knowledge or global affairs on the other hand (Rosenberg, 2009, p. 12).
How Weblogs have transformed communication and collaboration.
Just like other web 2.0 platforms, weblogs have considerably transformed the fundamental rules of communication, particularly between organizations and the general public. The creators of the weblogs are aware the numerous needs of the internet users. These include: need to have their voices heard; need to engage in constructive and unconstructive dialogue; need to interact with others; need to contribute to other important subjects affecting the society; and need to interact with like-minded individuals. Therefore, weblogs substitutes restricted methods used in the past with a more vigorous and multidimensional platform (Palloff & Pratt, 2009, p3).
Weblogs have really changed online conversations. Communication is no longer in one direction, broadcast or in some way sent to unreceptive audience. Weblogs are in any case a two-way dialogue and in most cases a multidimensional dialogue. In other words, everyone involved is free to make a contribution (Rettberg, 2008, p. 24). In addition, weblogs promote exchange of information and knowledge between the blogger and the audience by encouraging participation. Bloggers normally achieve this by posting recent events, subjects or topics in a more organized and perceptible format (Palloff & Pratt, 2009, p3).
Weblogs have significantly enhanced online connectivity. At the moment, information can be accessed through a click of a button and simple search. Weblogs blossoms through connectivity, for instance, through links to other internet sites, resources, individual pages, and routine interactions (Rettberg, 2008, p. 28). One of the fundamental aspects of weblogs is the creation of communities. Weblog communities can be described as alliances and relationships between audience or user who share common interests and goals, for instance, profession, sports, political ideology, and religion among others. Weblog communities have developed very fast and interact in a more effective manner (Thompson, 2008, p. 1).
Even though weblog communities are not physical in nature, with members rarely getting to know each other in person, they are more robust like the real communities. In many ways, they are more vigorous from the mere fact that geographical obstacles are eliminated (Rettberg, 2008, p. 29). Blau, Mor and Neuthal (2009) claim that “rigorous online interaction among students is an important predictor of superficial knowledge, end results and learner satisfaction” (p. 235). Rovai and Barnum (2003) add that “efficient e-learning platforms can create vibrant, participative, mutual and research-based learning prospects” (p. 59). Therefore, blogosphere is a very significant learning space that supports self reflection, enhances learning outcomes, and provides opportunity for learners to interact and study in a serene environment (Xie, Ke & Sharma, 2008, p. 19).
Unlike other mediums of communication, for instance e-mailing and text messaging, which effectively supports one-directional interaction between the teacher and the learner, academic weblogs are more focused on learner to learner multi directional interaction. In addition, academic blogs are often used as online journals, where learners account for their own personal experiences or share views related to particular subjects. Therefore, academic weblogs can both be learner-focused or peer-centered (Davi, Frydenberg & Gulati, 2007, p. 223).
Interaction through weblog can either be interpersonal or intrapersonal. At the intra-personal level, blogging, which promotes personal reflection through writing, can spell out ideas or feelings. Therefore, blogging significantly contributes to individual and proficiency development. On the other hand, interpersonal blogging leads to deep and constructive interaction/learning (Davi, Frydenberg & Gulati, 2007, p. 224). The theory of electronic propinquity introduced by Korzenny (1998) describes the psychological feeling of proximity aroused by the use of diverse electronic media. The theory emphasizes that interaction through electronic media tends to enhance closeness than physical interaction. As a result, weblogs and other web 2.0 platforms have enhanced communication and collaboration among individuals who share common interests, goals and profession, for example, peer groups, students, workers within an organization and scholars within different fields (Korzenny, 1998, p. 5).
According to the recent studies on the impact of web 2.0 platforms on business process performance, companies that use these platforms seem to do better than their rivals and reports benefits such as enhanced efficiency and lower aggregate costs (Nath et al., 2010, p. 24). Weblogs enhance business performance through the following: communication and collaboration, customer relationship management, enhanced innovation, and knowledge management. Weblogs have enhanced communication and collaboration in businesses through coordinated discussions, its capacity to reach a wider audience and its ability to review communication streams. It has enhanced customer relationship management by identifying and finding solutions to consumer queries via blog discussions. Enhanced innovation is a direct outcome of knowledge gained through blog forums. Last but not least, weblogs improves knowledge management in organizations by encouraging sharing, retrieval, organization and leveraging of information (Nath et al., 2010, p. 29).
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The second generation World Wide Web has played a significant role in transforming people’s ways of communication and collaboration. Unlike the previous platforms which were more restricted and closed-ended, web 2.0 provides a more rigorous, multidimensional and open-ended alternative. Web 2.0 platforms include: blogs, wikis, and the social media. Weblogs have considerably transformed the fundamental rules of communication by recognizing the fact that each and every individual have numerous needs. These include: need to have their voices heard; need to engage in unconstructive discussions; need to contribute to significant issues affecting the society; and need to interact with like-minded individuals or peers. As a result, the weblogs have enhanced learning experience, knowledge sharing and business performance among others.
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