Web 2.0 - the truth behind the hype


Last night I attended a CLSIG seminar called Web 2.0 - the truth behind they hype. This sounded like it was going to be quite interesting a battle between good and evil...well maybe not quite like that more like someone who isn't a fan of Web 2.0, Phil Duffy from Hammonds vs someone who is Karen Blakeman.

Phil took to the podium first with the argument against Web 2.0. I have to say if I wasn't using Web 2.0 then his arguments would haven't dissuaded me from using the tools that are now available, but perhaps that's because I'm a Web 2.0 evangalist of some description.

One of Phil's major arguments was that the time and effort required to produce content has decreased whilst the amount of content has gone up - as a direct result of the introduction of tools like blogs and wikis. This isn't a new argument it has been raging since these tools became widely available. I would argue that yes these tools do make publishers out of everyone, this can be good and of course it can be really bad, but they're are some really excellent sources of information out there which we all would have missed if these tools hadn't been available.

Phil also talked a lot about collaboration and how if we all collaborated all the time we'd get nothing done. He gave the example of a camel which he described as being designed by a committtee. Now collaboration is massive in Law Firms at the moment and will only become more important rather then less important as people see the benefit of using tools like wikis to replace exising hard copy resources and add value by allowing indviduals to comment and review changes.

Phil also expressed his concerns about the current generation of Information Professionals, his concern was that the current generation are more concerned about blogging and social media then they are about "shelving books" or "answering queries" Why cant the two go hand in hand though? I blog, rave about social media, work on social media projects but I can still shelve a book and answer legal queries. I don't believe there is anything wrong with the current generation of information professionals knowing about and using these tools, isn't it almost expected as the trainees who join our firms in the next 3, 4 or 5 years will all have been using these tools and will expect to be able to use an equivalent in their firm?

Following Phil, Karen Blakeman presented on why we should all be using Web 2.0 tools. She like Phil thought the term Web 2.0 was mis-used and instead asked people to think about what Web 2.0 actually meant, which for audience meant things like semantic tagging, user general content and my web. This wasn't what I'd expected to hear at all and neither had Karen who said that most people say Blogs, Wikis and RSS. I think this is an important to remember when you're talking about these tools it's important not to get hung up on what they're called but how you or your organisation can use them.

Karen's slides are of course available on Slideshare and I recommend everyone have a look at these as they contain some useful information and web 2.0 resources. There is also a very good review of the seminar on the Organising Chaos blog.