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Communities and Web 2.0

Communities are Web2.0. without them we’re info-less.

Abstract

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.

Introduction

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.

Conclusion

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.

References

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

Twitter. (2020). Trends. Retrieved from https://twitter.com/explore

23 replies on “Communities are Web2.0. without them we’re info-less.”

Hi Charles,

This was an interesting read with an argument which I agree with.
There is no doubt that social media platforms such as Wikis, Twitter and YouTube have formed participatory cultures, community, entertainment and eduction. The example you have used stating that Wikis, Wikipedia for example, have formed communities and the sharing of information through the ‘adding’ features. I do agree that Wikis have created communities, although is the information shared as trust-worthy and reliable as perhaps an educational book published by a professional? As it is known that in the past wikipedia users have joked around adding humorous information in-place of accurate information.

Although this question, I do personally agree that platforms such as Twitter and YouTube have shared reliable information. Perhaps about issues occurring worldwide or political information, which can be published by ‘verified’ professionals or political figures and re-tweeted/shared by communities. Your statements regarding where “toilet paper is stocked” and the spread and growth of artists such as Kpop becoming popular in more countries; Stand strongly by your argument and do express how social media has encouraged community and the spread of information.

Overall, I agree with your argument that communities are an essential part of the web 2.0, propellant by the collection of information! Well done 🙂

If you were interested in a similar read, my piece is about the Web 2.0 and how it has created online influencers as well as activist communities through Social Media!

https://networkconference.netstudies.org/2020Curtin/2020/05/10/the-web-2-0-has-created-online-influencers-as-well-as-activist-communities-through-social-media-platforms/

Hi Jasmin!

Thanks for reading my paper 🙂 I totally see where you are coming from by questioning the reliability of the information on these platforms. I personally think you are right to question this, especially in regards to propaganda and the rise of ‘fake new’ but also i think that because of the extreme popularity and engagement these sites attract, one could find enough information amongst the unreliable information to come to some sort of conclusion. What i mean by this is that if there are youtube videos saying one thing there will often be just as many if not more saying the actual truth of a situation, although, unfortunately this isn’t always the case. Similarly, in regards to wikipedia, so many people visit the site and contribute to it that even if one person did decide to troll the site and change it there would eventually be someone after who would change it back to what it should be. While i would advise to not trust the application for scholarly information it does suffice for day to day information. Also, often wiki pages contain a reference section so if one was looking for something more reliable to get their information from they could look there to access the source material and judge for themselves how reliable that is.

Again, thanks for reading my paper and I’ll be sure to check yours out too!

Hi Charles,

Thank you for your great response to my question! I do agree with your statement expressing how perhaps the application is not suitable for scholarly information but it is good for day to day information. There is no doubt everyone in their lifetime has utilised Wikipedia for basic information.

I also agree with your suggestion that although users can insert incorrect and humorous statements, it is most likely that it will be changed back to it’s correct information and has added references attached for further research. Overall, I agree with your statements how platforms such as wikis do produce communities and is a place to share information!

Thanks for looking into my conference piece!

Hi Charles,

I enjoyed reading your paper a lot as I do strongly agree with your standpoints. Online community is definitely one of the key roles in forming all kinds of information as people from all over the globe could participate and contribute. Thus, participatory culture is the soul for Web 2.0.

I have to admit that although Wikipedia’s information could be somewhat unreliable, but I still find myself going to it all the time whenever I want to know more about something. Probably because of its convenience. Web 2.0 has made it very easy to access.

Lastly, although my paper is about how online social networking could empower women, which is completely different from your topic, I still hope you could take time and read it as well.
Below is the link to my conference paper if you would like to check out my perspectives on the power of social networking:
https://networkconference.netstudies.org/2020Curtin/2020/05/10/timesup-movement-social-networks-influence-on-personal-identity-within-social-media/
Feel free to give me a comment as well!

Kind Regards,
Shong Wut Yi

hi Wut Yi Shong!

Thanks for reading my paper. I’m glad you enjoyed my paper and use wikipedia. i think that’s the true essence of the wikipedia, average people using a free service that is powered by the community. how wonderful!

Hey Charles,
Dude, what a nice paper. I completely agree with you. I think that without communities web 2.0 wouldn’t exist and as a result, the digital landscape wouldn’t be nearly as diverse. I know from my personal experience, I practically only use the web to access my various communities. Do you think that since human nature is to form communities and groups, web communities were destined to become a thing?

Your paper did raise a few questions that I’d love to hear your opinion on:
With regards to how one can become part of a community without knowing or even agreeing to it, do you think the idea of the social contract binds us all as a physical community from birth? And taking that idea one step further, do you think that an online community that one chooses to join, could be stronger than a physical community even though there are no physical bonds between individuals?

Do you think that the rise of platforms like Twitter has led to the explosion of citizen journalism or is the growth and development of Twitter a result of communities using it for crisis reporting?

You mentioned how Twitter provides a timeline of real and event, unfiltered when compared to Facebook or traditional media posts, but what are your thought to the widespread issue of ‘fake news’ or ‘clickbait’ that can quickly pollute the site? I know you briefly touched on this idea in your section on YouTube, but In this regard, do you think that communities could also be a hindrance to information on the web?

Overall man, solid paper. Can’t wait to see your point of view on the questions I had, though, I think we’ll be pretty similar. Can’t wait to see you in class.

hey nick,

I do think the communities were definitely inevitable.

to answer some one your questions,
– to become a part of a community without knowing one culd be born into a community and not be aware of it, like if a child was born into a cult they wouldn’t be aware of it but the reality is that they’re, at that point, part of it.
– i also do think that in some cases a virtual community could be more strong than a physical community but i also feel like that is dependant on the individual. what i mean by this is that come could have a stronger relationship with their virtual community than they do with their physical communise. Communities are often built around ideas so sometimes the physical aspect of it plays less of a role in brining people together.

– great question about the exploitation of citizen journalism btw. i think that twitter is bing used for many many things and while that could occur, it is more often used as just a social network with a community reacting to news, rather than stating it themselves.

– finally, i think fake news is a plague facing all forms of media. while it definitely has a presence on the platform, i think that is more of a matter for the individual because where there are communities, there are also community leaders and individuals who can be trusted and those who can’t be. it’s just a matter of finding the right sources of media within these platforms i guess.

thanks for checking out my paper 🙂

Hey again Charles,

You raise heaps of good points but I gotta know your thoughts on WeChat’s use in media restricted places such as China. I think you’ve taken Denise’s class on ‘Asian Media in Transition’ so I’m sure you know about the restriction of the public sphere and the strong media control in some authoritarian regimes over east. So with that in mind, do you think that WeChat is used differently to Twitter because of this?

Also out of curiosity, are there any virtual communities that you are a part of that you consider yourself closer with when compared to a physical one?

Hi Charles and Nick,

I saw this discussion at the end of your paper, and just had to jump on. Great paper, I found it so interesting and was eager to start a discussion on some points you raised.

I definitely agree that becoming a part of online communities is inevitable in this contemporary digital landscape, especially for Gen Z. To add to this discussion, do you think older generations that have not grown up with technology are disadvantaged by potentially being able to see the feeds as displayed on the news (as you mentioned in your paper), but not necessarily having the ability to participate?

Most online communities are public, especially that which you mentioned on Wikis and through live feeds on Twitter. How can an ‘outsider,’ or someone not directly related to the community, identify what is trustworthy and what is not when purely taking a brief look at these communities? This question lightly relates to Fake News as well, in the sense that how do we identify whether a user is trustworthy?

I found your point about the live feed under #covid19_australia quite interesting in the way these ad hoc communities can bring people together. Especially in the news today, with so much sharing of the George Floyd story. Do you think this type of communication sparks actual real-world change, or just add to the constant stream of information users are now exposed to? Are users trying too hard to be citizen journalists?

You mention that it is “human nature is to form communities and groups”. Based on your experience, what network do you think is best for this?

Hey Charles,
Yeah i did. I definitely think it’s just the way humans have evolved over time is to form into communities. Rather than mutating physically, like evolving to be bipedal or shedding full body hair as we did in the past, I believe we’ve moved to the next step, with the current way we evolve as a species being through our social and community practices, social evolution rather than physical.

So to answer your question (assuming you’re referring to virtual networks only), I think that one of the best platforms for this would have to be Reddit or Youtube. In my eyes, they both enhance the Web 2.0 experience, focusing on the elements that make it unique and encourage community participation and engagement – all things needed for a strong community virtual or not.

I know you wrote about a few different platforms in a positive light but are there any that you think aren’t optimised around community building and user participation?

Hi Charles,

I enjoyed your paper. I agree with you’re viewpoint, and I think it’s interesting that this idea of community is so present in Web 2.0. I believe that for anything to be successful and used frequently, there needs to be some form of community within that domain. As humans, we crave interaction and web 2.0 has given society a realm where people of similar beliefs can come together and act as a community.

Thanks Jordan!

Community is so important for the development of our society and i’m happy you think so too.

Hi Charles,

This was an interesting read! It’s fascinating to consider platforms that are arbitrarily used for information or seen as a sort static encyclopaedia like Wikipedia as a community for people to interact in. I do agree that communities and participatory culture are sort of the linchpin of Web 2.0. Many Web 2.0 platforms that are built for a specific purpose (ie. Youtube) all seem to have some element of social networking embedded – be it just a comment section. People nowadays want the ability to interact with the content they see, provide opinion or discussion which is a classic facet of any community.

Hey Melissa,

Thanks for reading my paper. I’m glad you enjoyed it. Community, networks and participatory culture are all things that are very very relevant to the online world we live in today 🙂

Hi Charles,
Great job on your paper , i really enjoyed reading it.
I have also read the other comments and i agree with Jasmyn comment about the reliability of some of the information on these platforms. But i think you both had a good point. Whether or not the information is a reliable source i think it is up to the person using the information but either way it’s all bringing the community together.

Again great paper, i really enjoyed your point of view.
Thanks,
Jade

hey Jade,

i’m glad you found my conversation with Jasmyn informative. thanks for reading my paper too! 😀

Hey Charles!

Great job on writing such an informative and insightful paper on how communities are essential for the development of Web 2.0 and how the concept of participatory culture on media platforms contribute to “the ever-growing pool of content online”. Indeed, without communities, web 2.0 tools like Wikis, Twitter and YouTube would not have been today’s most powerful media platforms enabling interaction among people across the world. Moreover, I found it very interesting to see the shift from the ‘read-only’ era to the ‘read-write’ era since the emergence of web 2.0 and how the aspect of participatory culture on every media platform is encouraging participation, interaction and collaboration among people.

Wikis definitely show the importance of communities in web 2.0 as well as the aspect of participatory culture which encourage users to gather information together thus creating this “limitless pool of free information” as you mentioned in your paper. You could have mentioned the concept of ‘collective intelligence’ to explain how people are coming and collaborating together to create this space where information are shared to the public and the example you chose; the ‘German Wikipedia community’ is a great one.

Overall, I totally agree with the points you developed in your paper. Well done! 😊

Regards,

Anne-Sophie

Hi Anne-Sophie,

thanks for checking out my paper! i really appreciate it. Yes! collective intelligence is for sure an area that would be very applicable to this paper. thanks for brining it up, i might just have to do some research into it and talk about it in my next essay!

Hi Charles,

Well done on the paper, very well informed and written! I found it very informing and interesting. The idea of a community and how easy it is to be apart of it without even knowing is an interesting concept to myself. I completely agree with you that communities are an essential part to Web 2.0, as Web 2.0 is the era of user generated content and no matter how useful and awesome all these tools and websites Web 2.0 has to offer, they would have no use or a very little significance to our population without communities embracing them and using them everyday.

Once again well done and I enjoyed reading!
Thanks,
Campbell

Hey Campbell,

Cheers for reading my article. Yeah if it weren’t for communities, these sites would be barren except for the information provided by corporations. And if that were a reality it would be quite problematic for the world as corruption would run rife.

Hi Charles!

This was a great read! I always loved how in the past you could post absolutely anything to youtube and just let your creativity fly, although now I feel like the platform has turned quite toxic in some communities (beauty and family channels). What do you think about the new restrictions and guidelines on Youtube which censor a lot of content? Interested to hear your reply.

Also if you had a chance to read my paper I would really appreciate it. It’s about the growing inauthenticity and fake identities being facilitated by social media: https://networkconference.netstudies.org/2020Curtin/2020/05/10/social-media-has-helped-in-manufacturing-deceptive-and-inauthentic-identities-online/

Have a great day!
Leah

Hey Leah!

Yes! The new restrictions are quite ridiculous if i’m honest. it’s so problematic and will end up putting so many creators out of business 🙁 it’s definitely going to damage the greater YouTube community. the youtube community has always been a wild place but recently i think its become more toxic than wild with “drama” everywhere and close closed groups encouraging toxic behaviour. it’s a weird issue that is definitely YouTubes Fault and a big mistake.

thanks for checking out my paper 🙂

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