it’s obvious that Web 2.0 is a cultural and intellectual catastropheThe basic issue is experts vs. collective intelligence. As Michael Gorman tells us in Web 2.0: The Sleep of Reason, Part I:
reference works were not only created by scholars and published by reputable publishersOne point of caution - this is all being published on Britannica's blogs - which has a vested interest in maintaining a Cult of the Expert. At the same time, this echoes what I read recently in The Chronicle - New Metrics of Scholarly Authority - Michael Jensen -
right now we're still living with the habits of information scarcity because that's what we have had for hundreds of years. Scholarly communication before the Internet required the intermediation of publishers. The costliness of publishing became an invisible constraint that drove nearly all of our decisions. It became the scholar's job to be a selector and interpreter of difficult-to-find primary and secondary sources; it was the scholarly publisher's job to identify the best scholars with the best perspective and the best access to scarce resources.The publishers and peer review assured the quality of what is produced. In Web 2.0, quality theoretically comes from public review and scrutiny.
This is exactly the issue many of us face in the development of training. We are the experts. We validate the quality of the content. Without us in the mix, how do we know that the content being created by learners is accurate, of high quality, appropriate, etc.
These are fair questions for us to ask, and there certainly is a problem when experts are drowned out by a group of people who have more time and interest in pushing for alternative views.
At the same time, one of the people commenting on Will's post said:
To me Web 2.0 is new tools. It’s how we use them, not the tools themselves, that matters.I'm not sure it's that simple. What's changed is that there now are incredibly easy to use tools that allow all of us to be content creators. There is an incredible flood of content. And it gets produced incredibly quickly.
Print publishing cycles and normal kinds of peer review are simply too slow to be a reasonable filter on the communication. Instead, we get many-to-many communication that is fundamentally different than what we've had before.
I also believe that something else is changing - access to resources. My son's ability to access California Gold Rush Historic Maps from the David Rumsey Map Collection to do his report on routes taken to the Gold Rush is something that none of us had when we were in 4th grade. Spending 10 minutes to zoom into the description on the Map of the Gold Regions of California, Showing the Routes via Chagres and Panama, Cape Horn, &c. was an incredible experience for my son. Add to it that he updated Wikipedia with an additional route and a link to the map collection.
I would be curious to see what Britannica has on this topic. The information I could get to without having to enter a credit card didn't mention the route through Mexico. But more than that, having the link to that map and the collection of maps is something that Britannica will have a hard time replicating.
I do believe that there's still need for expertise, review, authoritative sources. But there's also a valuable place for the speed, breadth, depth and network in Web 2.0. Certainly, I'd much rather scan the blogs in my blogroll than read a copy of Training Magazine. The magazine content never can go into as much depth, it can't cover as many topics, the content is at least six months old and it doesn't allow me to engage in a conversation around it.