In the last class we spent some time discussing the various definitions of Web 2.0 and debating the how and where some of the Web 2.0, SMS, Social networking puzzle pieces all fit together. I remember flashing in one moment of the discussion to the timeless question of which came first – chicken or egg? Luckily as the discussion went on, I was able to advance this simple mental model to a more academic mindset of the discussion which led me back to readings by Gieryn (1999). I have been pondering these writings for a few weeks now, and in the context of Web 2.0, they offer an alternative view for the discussion of defining the elements the social media domain. Let me explain…
Perhaps an alternative to a Venn diagram to display the elements of Web 2.0, we could conceive of a cartographic diagram… simply put – a MAP! Why is this an alternative worth considering? Well, it not only allows us to consider the relative connection of Web 2.0 elements (chicken to egg), but also allows us to consider where the chicken and egg might reside in relation to each other (in the barnyard vs. in the hen-house) and draw comparisons to other yet to be developed Web 2.0 platforms, widgets, apps, et. – or the NON Web 2.0 world (TV, Phone, face-2-face discussion, Web 1.0…).
Cartography can also help us consider what kind of people and cultures might reside in the various map locations, by using the topography of the map to develop mental metaphors for the “local peoples” dwelling places. The most wonderful thing about maps, is they are never wrong and also never completely right either; they are created through a unique perspective, but it is only one perspective. They can change with the view of the beholder, or the change of times – they can become useful artifacts of both history and technology.
In a Web 2.0 world, I suppose we would all be allowed (and encouraged) to add to this map, allowing it to evolve into the space and depiction we could all agree is “just right” to describe it.