Monday, October 4, 2010

The one-millionth English word

On June 25, 2009, the Global Language Monitor (GLM) announced Web 2.0 (said: Web two-point-oh) as the 1,000,000th English word. I’m not here to discuss why the announcement was controversial (apparently some people argue there is no possible objective definition of “word”) or to discuss the English language (though I would have loved to discuss parenthetical clauses at length). I’m here to talk to you about why Web 2.0 matters, what it is, and how it affects the world around us.

You may think Web 2.0 is an evolution– that there is a Web 1.0 that’s been kicked aside and forgotten. In some regards, you are right (and not just that 1.0 has become a notion of the past): Web 2.0 is an evolution, but it’s more of an evolution in the way people think of and utilize the web and less in the technical sense.

Boring old Web 1.0 is simply web-for-information: static pages with no interactivity. But snazzy new Web 2.0 features people-for-information: sites allowing users to interact with one another or with the site itself, to modify or improve information, or to upload their own content. Way more exciting, if you ask me!

And Web 2.0 encompasses more than just social-networking sites like Facebook or mySpace. It takes content authoring to a new extreme:
  • Blogs allow people to share content with anyone interested in reading it. Apparently locked diaries are a thing of the past ;)
  • News that once would have had a CNN correspondent breaking the story are now being found on twitter before CNN knows they even need a camera crew on location – like the shooting at Discovery Channel in September 2010.
  • A study released earlier this year found that Wikipedia, a collaborative, online encyclopedia, was basically as accurate as the Encyclopedia Britannica.
  • In 2008, You Tube surpassed Yahoo! as the number two search engine in America.

We used to go to the web to get information. Now we can go to the information and share information. Web 2.0 is popping up everywhere!
  • Comment feeds after every CBC article
  • “like” and “share” buttons on more and more websites
  • Twitter feeds featured within a blog
  • Tagging photos in Facebook to link user accounts
  • Designing your own Converse sneakers or Sharpie pens online
  • Group consumer savings through sites like Groupon

Consumer review sites are changing the way companies handle their public relations and return policies; twitter is changing the way we think of breaking news; interactive web conferencing is changing the way organizations can perform focus testing; social media is changing the way world politicians campaign! The list of changes is endless!

Here are some Web 2.0 numbers for 2009, and remember, these numbers increase daily.
  • 30 billion – Number of photos uploaded to Facebook per year (at the current rate)
  • 126 million – Number of blogs on the Internet (as tracked by BlogPulse).
  • 27.3 million – Number of tweets on Twitter per day (November, 2009)
  • 81.9 – Percentage of embedded videos on blogs that are YouTube videos.
If you didn’t already know, our world has become Web 2.0-centric and the internet is only going to become more open – more open with regards to content, users, ideas, and sharing. Web 2.0 may or may not be the one-millionth word, but it’s the first big technological concept of the 21st century.

How do you use Web 2.0?

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