Web 2.0 and other outrages

19 Jun 2007

You'll be hearing quite a bit about Web 2.0 this week. With any luck, you'll also be hearing about the backlash that's starting to crop up.

Some of it is financial. Industry pundits fear that the hype over websites like MySpace, YouTube and Twitter is another dotcom bubble just waiting to burst the moment Wall Street realizes there's no real money to be made in the foreseeable future.

Some of it is simply the inability of people under the age of 30 to understand the appeal of something like Twitter, the "microblogging" site that limits posts to 140 characters and has been derided as everything from the ultimate in banal content to a potential stalking tool (thanks to users careless enough to twitter things like "I'll be at [insert address here] for the next five hours").

A related Web 2.0 horror is the fear of stalkers setting up MySpace accounts to prey on teenagers - a fear that's gripped the US. The NBC television news magazine program "Dateline" featured a segment dedicated to entrapping social networking sex predators on camera.

And related to that is the inevitable censorship issues that come with enabling hundreds of millions of ordinary netizens to say and publish whatever they want in a universe that doesn't recognize national boundaries and the various amounts of (in)tolerance of free speech.

The experience of Google and Yahoo in China is an early example that's still ongoing - just last week, Yahoo shareholders rejected a proposal to adopt an anticensorship policy. In the last month we've seen other names dragged into the censorship debate.

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