Sharing is Caring…about participating in Web 2.0 Social Networks

Share a photo! Share a story! Share what you did this weekend! Share your life! On our multitude of social networking sites in the age of Web 2.0, the word “share” is everywhere- but what does it mean?

As Nicholas A. John explains in his paper, “sharing” has come to mean more than the literal definition, and in Web 2.0 social networking, sharing encompasses almost any kind of participation in social networking (John). Part of John’s paper documented a study where forty-four of the largest social networking sites were analyzed using a “Wayback Machine”. Data was collected in snapshots on their history of “sharing” and how it has evolved on that particular site in what I found to be a very readable, and as a student, relatable way to present the data. One area of slight fault I found with the paper in the same regard however was the fact that it did not seem to focus very much on the specific findings of this study.

Nonetheless, John went on to explain that sharing on Web 2.0 technologies does not simply have to comprise of sharing concrete objects such as photos or videos. The idea of sharing has also come to include less concrete “fuzzy” (John) objects of sharing such as information. He distinguished between “communicative” (John) and “distributive” sharing, with “distributive” sharing being the literal definition of sharing we may be most familiar with (John).

This gray area of what “sharing” has become is a direct result of what Web 2.0 is. As we have discussed both through lecture and readings, Web 2.0 marked a transition into an age of user-generated content. Clay Shirky called it the “Shock of Inclusion” to describe how Web 2.0’s user-interaction focused concept has allowed consumers to also fill the role of producers (Shirky). Directly connecting to our lecture topics, social networking in the age of Web 2.0 has seen a huge increase in transparency a leveling of the playing field, if you will. While John’s label for this “Shock of Inclusion” may not have as much gravitas, he calls it “Prosumptive Internet” to define how Web 2.0 has led to production and consumption to “collapse into each other” (John).

Web 2.0 has put users in control. It’s no longer about simply publishing content from exclusive, professional sources. Stemming all the way from the Californian Ideology we talked about during lectures, Web 2.0 has always been about sharing, whether it be photos, information, or your life in general. As Web 2.0 continues to evolve and become even more centered on user-interaction, it only seems to make sense that the object of sharing grows less and less concrete, since Web 2.0 is pushing us away from published content and towards networked interaction. The inclusive nature of Web 2.0 has created an environment where sharing is no longer relegated to just a button to be pressed, but a “participatory culture” (John) that is simply part of the package of social networking.

Works Cited

John, Nicholas. “Sharing and Web 2.0: The emergence of a keyword”. The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 2012, pp. 167–182.

Shirky, Clay. Cognitive Surplus: Creativity and Generosity in a Connected Age. The Penguin Press, 2010

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