First Monday special issue: “A Decade of Web 2.0: Reflections, Critical Perspectives, and Beyond”

Decade of Web 2.0I am extremely happy to announce the publication of “A Decade of Web 2.0: Reflections, Critical Perspectives, and Beyond”, a special issue of First Monday that I was privileged to co-edit with Dr. Anna L. Hoffmann.

The issue includes an impressive set of diverse contributions revisiting the topic of critical engagement with Web 2.0:

We are particularly indebted to our external reviewers who, through a double-blind review process, shaped this special issue in important ways. Their efforts helped ensure that the discussions presented in the following were both rigorous and relevant to contemporary thinking around online platforms and practices. Congrats to everyone involved!

Here is an excerpt from the preface, and the issue is available here.

Preface: A Decade of Web 2.0 – Reflections, Critical Perspectives, and Beyond

Edited by Michael Zimmer and Anna Lauren Hoffmann

It has been more than 10 years since the publication of “What Is Web 2.0?”, Tim O’Reilly’s influential declaration of Web 2.0’s practical and conceptual underpinnings (O’Reilly, 2005). In 2008, First Monday published a special issue on “Critical Perspectives on Web 2.0” (Zimmer, 2008) bringing together a diverse group of scholars to “expose, explore and explain the ideological meanings and the social, political, and ethical implications of Web 2.0”. These contributions addressed issues of labor, privacy, exploitation, and broader conceptual and practical implications of participatory platforms and social production online.

Just as many of the practices and ideas subsumed under the “Web 2.0” label in fact preceded the term in important ways, so too have they outlasted it. Though use of the term itself has waxed and waned, its fundamental (if sometimes conflicting) ideals have spread outwards—winding their way through cultural and social shifts as well as subtle technological and economic reconfigurations-, and continue to inform contemporary discussions of new platforms and practices.

For example, concerns over labor and social production have persisted in critical discussions of personal data ownership as well as the “sharing economy;” questions of exploitation and dominance are increasingly pressing in the face of the power and reach exhibited by companies like Google, Facebook, or Twitter; as knowledge platforms like Wikipedia have flourished, so have concerns over diminished critical-thinking skills and the monopolization of knowledge; and critical attention to the (often tenuous) relationship between democracy and participatory platforms remains vital to understanding the power of social media tools for facilitating social and political protest at the same time as it enables new opportunities for surveillance, political repression, and censorship (as through potential biases in trending news algorithms). In addition, while social networking sites and tools have provided unparalleled opportunities to connect, communicate, and share, they’ve also given rise to problems of identity management, cyber-bullying, revenge porn, and (sometimes cruel) practices of trolling.

At first blush, it feels strange or dated to be talking about Web 2.0 again. Upon reflection, however, revisiting these ideals seems necessary and even urgent, as ideas central to early discussions of Web 2.0 have—under various guises—retained their relevance as online platforms and networked technologies continue to shape social, political, and economic opportunities while at the same time fostering resistance and controversy. In view of these (dis)continuities, we are excited to present this new special issue of First Monday“A Decade of Web 2.0: Reflections, Critical Perspectives, and Beyond”. Put together, this collection of papers updates and extends previous critical assessments of online social and participatory platforms and practices.

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