Friday, September 08, 2006

A Letter in response to "Homo Conexus" -- Tech Review

A letter of mine commenting on trust in technology was just published in TR. Thought it was interesting how it was edited.

Published Version of the Letter:
Friday, September 08, 2006 (Sept./Oct. '06 issue)
"Homo Conexus"
I read with interest James Fallows's piece on the new wave of Web-based
applications sometimes called Web 2.0 ("Homo Conexus," July/August 2006). In
using these new programs, he sometimes found that while a new online service was
impressive, he was just too old to enjoy it. Unfortunately, I often feel quite
the same way. I enjoy reading about exciting technological innovations,
but--nose pressed to glass--cannot really participate.

I also liked Fallows's observation that trust, in general, is important to Web
2.0, but would like to add that Web 2.0 demands a specific kind of trust between
a given application's makers and users. Desktop software, such as Microsoft Word
and the Thunderbird e-mail ­client, is the same day-to-day. Not so with Web 2.0.
One can log on to Gmail or Yahoo Mail and find that the interface has radically
changed and that the arrangement and filtering of one's e-mail has been altered.
Mark Gerstein
New Haven, CT

The Original Version of My Letter (which I submitted):
I read with great interest James Fallow's article on Web 2.0. I
empathize with his initial statement about "Dodgeball truth" --
realizing that while a new computational service was impressive, he
had outgrown its potential utility. Unfortunately, I often feel this
way with regards towards many technological innovations. I enjoy
reading about them but -- eyes pressed to glass -- can not really
participate. I also liked Mr. Fallow's emphasis on trust as being
important to Web 2.0. However, I felt he could have elaborated on this
further, discussing the degree to which Web 2.0 requires an explicit
element of trust between users and providers. If one is using a
standard piece of desktop software, such as Microsoft Word or the
Thunderbird email client, one correctly assumes that it is going to be
the same day to day and that the structure of one's creations will
also remain static (unless, of course, we opt to upgrade). Likewise,
when one builds a website in the old Web 1.0 paradigm we can assume
that it will look the same going into the future. This is not the
case with Web 2.0 content. One can suddenly log on to Gmail or Yahoo
Mail and find that the interface has radically changed and that the
arrangement and filtering of one's email has been altered. Likewise,
when one posts content into an online review services, such as Amazon,
one is trusting that the presentation of an opinion will remain the
same going into the future. Of course, the Amazon can easily change
the way its reviews are presented without anyone's consent. Thus,
there really is an additional element of trust in Web 2.0.

Article Commented on:
Tuesday, July 25, 2006
Homo Conexus
A veteran technology commentator attempts to live entirely on Web 2.0 for two weeks.
By James Fallows
Sooner or later, we all face the Dodgeball truth. This comes at the moment when you realize that one of life's possibilities -- a product, an adventure, an offer, an idea -- is really meant for people younger than you. This bitter revelation is named for the relatively new Web-based service This is a social networking site, and it represents most of what is supposed to be advanced and exciting about the current wave of "Web 2.0" offerings. Dodgeball's goal is to help you figure out, at any moment of the day or night, whether your friends or people who might be friendly are nearby... Dodgeball is light, mobile, interactive. And for the life of me, I can't imagine when I would use it....
ooo[clip]ooo ooo[computers]ooo ooo[L2E]ooo