This paper is intended to highlight how communities are essential for the development of Web2.0, auguring how they are the biggest contributor of information into the network. This paper will look at how Wikis, twitter and YouTube operate as communities and how they contribute to the ever-growing pool of content on Web 2.0.
Without communities, web 2.0 applications like Wiki, Twitter and YouTube would not be the same as we know them today. Communities based around these different applications and networks have given the world access to a nearly limitless pool of free information, whether that be historical information, live information, educational information or even recreational entertainment information. Websites such as the Wikipedia and the other wikis allow for a community-based collection of information that anybody can access. Sites like twitter offer a different type of information; live information. Twitter provides people access to a constant stream of feed, updating the public on whatever they want as soon as something happens, thanks to the support of twitter’s strong participatory culture. YouTube offers a more diverse array of information that covers everything from entertainment to education. The participatory culture of communities on interactive platforms like wikis, twitter and YouTube are the main driving factors for the gathering of information within web 2.0, shaping the type of content we now find on this vast network.
Community is a key part of what makes Web 2.0. Communities can be considered networks that interlink people through many different traits and circumstances, Belton (2011) describes it as a group that holds “particular beliefs, doctrine, elective cultural, ethnic or racial propensities, or the charismatic ‘spirit’ of a leadership figure, family or clan.”, however it can be more far reaching than that. Communities can go beyond just personal traits like religion, race or economic status and branch out to a potentially global scale though circumstantial positioning and the internet. For example, one person may be a part of a community that watches the evening news. Through that they could become part of the twitter community without even downloading the app just because they are consuming a twitter feed and partaking in that community thanks to the news programs live feed being broadcasted at the bottom of the screen. It’s possible to be a part of a community without even knowing. It is a state of circumstances and not necessarily a choice. One could be born into a community, join a community, become a part of it by coincidence or even against their will depending on the state of society. Communities are everywhere and with the growth of communities comes the sharing of knowledge which has now become relevant to the development web2.0.
What are wikis and how do they relate to communities?
The Wiki communities hold a fundamental role within web 2.0 because wikis are a community-based collaboration of information on almost anything. It is common knowledge that when someone wants to find a quick fact, they google it and a majority of the time it is a wiki page that first comes up on their search engine. The great participatory culture around wikis is what makes them so vast in information because users are always adding and modifying the pages. As web2.0 came about it changed the model of the web for the average person who doesn’t know how to code from just read to read write. This eventually brought about the wiki page which has a very specific set of features that became a fundamental for web2.0’s growth in stored information. A wiki page (with the exception of Wikileaks) it must conform to this set of characteristics; a page must have an edit and save option, and a page must have a log of previous saves and links on pages to other pages, making it a network. Because wikis functioned in this way, where anybody can contribute to a page with only a few select users with moderator authority, they are ideal for large, text-based information sharing.
Peoples desire to share and correct information led to the explosive expansion of wiki pages, spawning pages like Wikipedia, Wikileaks, Wiki-How and FANDOM. Although these sites were intended for a specific purpose, they each hold thousands of different pages within them. This structure encouraged participatory culture and eventually users started developing their own cultures and communities around these pages, creating a wide network of interlinking topics. The wiki community is a growing community with a strong following. An example of this is the German Wikipedia community, which was first introduced as a subdomain into Germany back in 2001 (Jørgensen, 2012) and by 2012 grew to hold 1.3 million articles, looking at around 400 new articles each day between 2006 and 2011. It was also the 6th most visited site in Germany in May of 2011. These facts demonstrate the influence communities have on web2.0, contributing to its traffic but more importantly its content. Many of these users would be searching areas to improve on as, according to Jørgensen’s (2012) study, users were mostly brought to these sites to provoke reactions and debate with other users, further pushing the development of the pages. While trolls were present there would always be a moderator or an equally eager individual to fix the mischief. Without its community Wikipedia would be desolate, only getting content from organisations who want to update their web presence. The Wiki community demonstrates how web2.0 relies on users for content. Wikis rely on participatory culture from their communities and without these communities all that would be on the application would be institutions pages information, leaving the site to be subject to potential bias and more inaccuracies.
A community in crisis; pop-stars or pandemics.
The community on twitter is another essential contributor to information on web2.0. Its practical functionality is diverse but often used for some very specific purposes. Twitter is a mostly texts-based platform where users answer the question, “what’s happening?” For followers to retweet, comment on or like. The platform relies on its users using its functions like hashtags and timelines to contribute to other users stream of feed. This ‘river’ of streams and posts builds a timeline on things that are important to its community, whether that’s finding out the latest news on a personal interest or the status of a crisis.
The Twitter community loves using their application to discuss popular media. Communities of fans migrate to twitter to share opinions and news on their favorite topics. K-pop is a prime example of this as in the October of 2010, “Super Junior, a K-pop idol boy band, was ranked as the number one worldwide trending topic on Twitter” (Jung, 2011) . The group’s trending rate rose after a Thai police group made a dancing video to their song ‘Sorry Sorry’. Members of the K-pop community as well as the wider internet community responded well to it and started tweeting about it, sharing the video and their opinions. The dedication of the community made a log of not only what was happening within the K-pop scene but also what its fans valued and responded well to at that time. When this happened, it became evident “online fan practices on social media enhance transcultural K-pop flows” (Jung, 2011) and allow previously unheard-of Asian pop culture to access audiences where they wouldn’t have gained access previously, like Europe and the US. This development also allows historians to see the spread of a trend as the K-pop twitter network spreads into different countries and rises in popularity. The mapping of the growth as well as the record of community’s values and interests over time is a unique set of information that twitter holds and without it web2 would suffer a considerable loss.
Twitter in crisis has become a vital tool for people who are being affected because it “allows immediate reactions to crisis situations”, (Schilts, 2011) which can then be utilized to raise awareness and then cause action. “Twitter allows very fast reactions and tweets are “re-tweeted””, (Schilts, 2011) leading to the further spreading information about the crisis like how people are responding and how people can help in the global and local communities. An example of how the twitter community has acted during this pandemic is how people are updating their friends on locations where toilet paper is being restocked or where it is sold out during the period of time where hoarding was a trend. Along with that it demonstrates how society is reacting during this time as people share their opinions on the matter and seek support from their local communities. This rapid spreading of a message through live microblogging raises awareness of an issue and creates a timeline of events as they happen creating digital history. One could go back to a specific tweet or hashtag and see a record of things happening in real time, like with the current COVID 19 epidemic. On the 31st of March 2020 #covid_19australia was the highest trending hashtag in Australia (Twitter, 2020). Under the hashtag there is a timeline of all the posts from everyone who has used the hashtag, showing civilians, celebrities and organizations responding to the crisis. This sort of unique and raw feed of content, which is less filtered than regular content, like Facebook or the news, due to the live aspect of it, provides the web with a more real perspective on history that would previously not be seen as the usual recorders of history are people who have thought out what they will record or are more powerful parties with specific motives beyond just recording what has happened. Additionally, without this information the world would be in a worse state as events like COVID 19 or the 2020 Australian wildfires could have turned out worse if the public and government didn’t have access to internet communications and information to counter the crisis.
YouTube, the home of amateur and professional video production.
The YouTube community has uploaded videos on almost any topic (deemed appropriate by the YouTube moderators) to the network, making it home to all sorts of entertainment and information. YouTube, the web2.0 application, is a video sharing platform that functions as a network. The community’s participation extends from, “casual viewing, to binge-watching, to fandom, through to highly invested and intensive participation as a content creator” (Burgess, 2018). Both professional creator or an animateur creators contribute to you tube’s information collective. Much like twitter, “YouTube works not only as a content delivery platform, but also as a social media platform” (Burgess, 2018), meaning it can be used to show the activity of society over time, capturing the YouTube community and subcommunity’s values and attitudes. Video views and ‘like to dislike ratios’ as well as all the other YouTube features give interested parties access to a demonstration of what the YouTube community is like at different stages in time. Beyond this, YouTube’s uploaded content is a source of easily obtainable information that wouldn’t be there if not for its community of creators. Burgess (2018), discusses how YouTube, beyond just being a social network, can be a platform for education. Burgess points out how “YouTube has always been the locus of both hope and concern about digital literacy”, as it “has always been a platform for peer learning about just about any subject, craft, or skill” which could potentially come with an air of unreliability. Despite that, it doesn’t diminish the fact that the information is still there on web 2.0 and free to access. The web2.0 application YouTube relies on its community to provide free information in the form of video and data to fill the network and without the YouTube community there would be a sizable decrease in the available information on the platform.
While web2.0 is home to many great and useful applications, like email and others, it would still be nothing without its communities. I argue that communities have been an essential part of the web2.0 we know today. Communities are what have fueled the collected information on web2.0 through applications like wiki, twitter and YouTube. Wikis provide a free online encyclopedia on anything that anyone can edit and add to. Twitter provides a live and accumulating record that can be used to keep up to date in any scenario but is particularly used for live television and in times of crisis. YouTube provides a video streaming service that can be used by origination and individuals access to almost any type of video-based content from educational to entertainment material. These community orientated applications rely on participatory culture and are home to much of web2.0’s information and without them it would just be institutions filling web2.0 with information.
Belton, B. (2011). ‘Weak power’: community and identity. Ethnic and racial studies, 36(2), 282-297. Https://doi-org.dbgw.lis.curtin.edu.au/10.1080/01419870.2012.676198
Burgess, J., & Joshua, G. (2018). Youtube: Online Video and Participatory Culture. Http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/curtin/detail.action?Docid=5502950
Jørgensen, R. F. (2012). Making sense of the German Wikipedia community. Journal of media and communication research, 28(53), 101-117 https://doi.org/10.7146/mediekultur.v28i53.5728
Jung, s. (2011). K-pop, Indonesian fandom, and social media. Transformative Works and Cultures, 8(1). Https://doi.org/10.3983/twc.2011.0289
Schilts, F., Utz, S., & Göritz, a. (2011). Is the medium the message? Perceptions of and reactions to crisis communication via twitter, blogs and traditional media. Public Relations Review, 37(1), 20-27. Https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pubrev.2010.12.001
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