Read an interesting feed from ReadWriteWeb this morning. It sums up some issues from the “Web 2.0 Expo” that took place last week, the main one being the general irrelevance of Web 2.0 in the “big picture.” It also links several articles and blogs that have discussed the same topic: that Web 2.0 will go extinct because it is essentially meaningless. Most of the Web 2.0 tools that get talked about are things like Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, and so on – all of which are great for socializing and networking, but do not purport to solve even small problems, much less the “big” problems we face in the world.
My thoughts upon reading this were fairly simple: that sounds like a perfect reflection of the students I see in my classes – they are completely engrossed in the meaningless drivel that is Web 2.0 and have no sense of the broader world. While I respect and appreciate the students in my classes, I am overwhelmed by the sense that the important things in their lives are shoes, clothes, music, movies, friends, boy/girl relationships, and complaining about teachers. Not surprisingly, these are the things that are wildly popular within Web 2.0.
What we don’t see enough of are sites that get students to interact with peers both here and around the world in solving big problems and talking about big issues. As I understand it, however, this is the developing trend: turning social networking and similar services into tools that will help change the world and the way we understand the world. When I think about that, I get excited at the thought, and I get excited about the kinds of students that could be in my class. At the same time, however, I am saddened that an entire generation is currently enslaved by the materialistic nature of Web 2.0 and its offspring.
Hopefully we can still do something to change that.