Web 2.0: Are you observing or participating?

Yesterday I listened to a philosophy podcast at the gym; it was an interview with William A. Drumin, a professor at King’s College in Pennsylvania. Drumin co-authored a book, Hitchcock and Philosophy: Dial M for Metaphysics that looks at the philosophy behind Hitchock’s films. During the interview they discussed the film, Rear Window a classic 1954 Hitchock film about a photographer who broke his leg and has to spend a few weeks at home. He spends everyday sitting at his window looking at the lives of his neighbours, always being a spectator and not a participant. 

This got me thinking about people interact with Web 2.0 technologies. From my perspective the web has evolved for us not to be observers, but active participants. I notice though that I along with my friends easily get caught up just observing through the web. It’s really easy to just get lost in watching people’s lives (especially when there are so many Facebook and Flickr albums out there!) and not to actually take advantage of the technology to meaningfully engage in conversations with others and to have the chance to express yourselves in ways that you didn’t previously.

I think the great thing about Web 2.0 is that it really allows people a chance to get to show many more parts of themselves that others wouldn’t see. This is one of the best descriptions I’ve seen of the power of Twitter enabling you to see and share parts of your lives that previously others couldn’t see. 

Point being, don’t just be an observer. Technology is just there to help us enhance how we express ourselves and create meaning and value with others. So why not participate?

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