UK Web Focus (Brian Kelly)

Innovation and best practices for the Web

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Me, Myself, I

Posted by Brian Kelly on 14 Dec 2007

Time The OCLC report on ‘Sharing, Privacy and Trust In Our Networked World’, which I wrote about recently, introduces the report with a quotation from the Time “Person of the Year: You” article, published a year ago on 13 December 2006.

Web 2.0 services, such as YouTube and Flickr, enable the individual to be active creators of content, rather than passive consumers as has been the case in the Web 1.0 world – which can be good for the citizen and good for the student.

And in a report on the recent Web 2.0 Expo in Berlin conference, the Secret Plans and Clever Tricks blog Chris May reported thatSocial == Me First. Social tools are primarily organised around self-interest, not altruistic participation in a community. Community, where it emerges, is a side-effect of the tools.“.

But how do we reconcile the tensions between the power which many Web 2.0 tools provide each of us as self-interested individuals (now that I can blog, upload pictures and videos so easily) and the requirements of the institution where individuals work or study? How, for example, can the institution safeguard its reputation if individuals can create content without being validated by editorial processes which have been the norm in the past? How are copyright misuses to be addressed? And what about the legal challenges such as data protection, defamation, compliance with accessibility legislation, etc.?

From my point of view I have been observing the pragmatic approaches which are being taken by people such as Michael Stephens on his Tame The Web blog (in particular with his Ray Of Light video) and John Dale at the University of Warwick, with his comments on the potential of YouTube and his willingness to write posts beyond his work-related activities.

I think the approaches being taken by individuals is helping to set patterns of acceptable use of such technologies, which now bodies such as Intute are using (as can be seen from this recent blog post).

Nothing new, perhaps – individuals were deep-linking to Web resources whilst the lawyers were still wondering about the legality of such actions. But I think, or I should say, I hope, that it is individuals who can be instrumental in setting in motion changes to outdated legislation. Who knows, we might even be able to rip our CDs and listen to our music collection on our iPods within infringing copyright legislation at some point (the Gower Report recommends this, but the required legislation has not yet been enacted)? However I should add that IANAL – and this post should not be construed as legal advice, or to reflect the views of anyone apart from myself.

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