Web 2.0: The birth of Social Media and You

Fri, 19th Sep, '08

This started off as a script for my talk at the upcoming BarCamp Delhi [register here] to be held on Oct 11-12 at IIT, New Delhi. Before we proceed any further here is a really motivating video about the whole Web 2.0 movement, and yes, it is a movement, an uprising, and nothing short of it[whole story after the jump].

All online media, as well as most of offline media, has the following entities to the heart of it:

  • Content Creators
  • Distribution Channel
  • Community/Audience

Armed with those three points, we take a dive.

Web 1.0: At the very beginning, that is the beginning of the Internet, there was too much consoling on consoles, very nerdy geeks[read gates and jobs] having fun with computers as they were and just cooking up things that made the thing more and more usable. Then we had all the operating systems and hardware platforms we would ever need, really.

Now those were the days of infancy of big corporations in the computing industry and they showed no signs of amateurishness whatsoever. Bill Gates is the richest american for fifteen years in a row, so the seriousness we are talking about here is beyond grasp. It was clearly visible by how they fought Netscape, a pretty innocent startup, that took the very first step in a never-to-die-down uprising. An uprising that is less surprised than its participators. Participators, who often have found themselves at the receiving end of this uprising. Netscape offered to provide, eh, documents(??) online. How innocent? That was the first browser that could display images inline with the text and with the help of some more wizardry that made this revolutionary new browser technology usable, it caught the fancy of the world, wide, web.

The social media here were the HTML documents. The creators were those few nerdy elites who knew something as exotic as HTML. So when we had the distribution channel in place and the creators were excited to create the very first form of social media that the world would know, Microsoft found something wrong. If the channel was let go of, Microsoft would lose monopoly of the very thing it built its empire on, the desktops. Whatever be the case, this uprising was muted, although for some time.

So the social media was there, the creators were in place, and the audience was present as well, but the distribution channel got choked. The users have been denied something that they could have had.

All is never lost. Just when the industry was making big money on this very nascent computing technology and the newest marvel of it, the Internet, lightning struck on the other side of the hamlet. Napster was born, and what a birth. This time the blow would hurt even deeper, like it always does. Napster allowed anyone to get a song he/she liked from any part of the world in minutes, for free. Wow. So the new social media is a song, revolutionised by a new technology called MP3 which renders a song file very transferable over computer networks of the day. The creators of this new social media are the industry signed music artists, very prized possession of the recording labels. And we know the size of the audience who are into music, its huge. Napster was the distribution channel and bang, again, the industry finds something wrong in this. Don’t you find something wrong here?? If I am a fan of something, I oughtta receive a souvenir for my faithfulness and not pay for it. And when someone does something that actually helps my faith grow, the very artists find it wrong?? Just doesn’t add up any which way I try.

Whichever way the jury settled, this was the birth of Intellectual Property Rights, patenting and much copyrighting around the world. Now everything gets copyrighted to the creator and the owner.

As an aside, and before moving on to the next generation of Web revolution, here’s another case:Sit to think about what has been the primary conflict with Linux?? It is the distribution channel. Its open, wide open. You can come in anytime and if you want to, you can just pick off one single application and leave. It was that much open. But due to the sheer size, and the fact that the creators and audience are both among us, there’s nothing much the industry could do. That is a very geeky kind of social media, but it lived on.

Web 2.0: So now, in the spirit of the video above, to hell with all artists. We have all the channels now to be the stars that we can be. Let Warhol take a class for fifteen minutes after which, we can start on our journey of claiming and entertaining our own audience. We have social bookmarking sites, wikis, video-sharing sites, blogging sites, picture sharing sites, social networks, microblogging, life streaming, virtual worlds, podcasting, webcasting, … the distribution channel has stopped looking like a wire or pipe and now looks like the world in itself. The creators are all of us. We have our copyrights. We are the audience as well. But wait. Copyright?? I am no Metallica, and neither am I Scott Adams, so who will steal my creation? And in an online population of 500mn people, if someone does, I won’t know. The chances are grim. Copyscape and TinEye may help, but what the heck, even if I find out, what are the chances that the discovery of such theft will be profitable for me??

Profitable.

If I was Metallica, I am only 4-5 guys in the whole world, and my copyright is heavyweight. It makes big money across oceans. The recording company better lookout for all infringements. But I am also a traveller sharing his pictures on the Internet just like that with the same kind of copyrights. But if my copyright gets violated, there’s not much doing on the way from my hosting service. I am not big money, my copyright is featherweight, or worse, pea-weight. The hosting service is still making money from the ads that result by way of pageviews on my picture pages and god knows how many in my audience click on them, but I am benefitted by none.

Is something wrong again?? Wrong is, the creators now don’t get paid for their creations. People have always wanted it for free, so what the heck, Mr Website Owner says, give it away on a web page with some mumbo-jumbo passed for copyrights and lets keep the dime with ourselves. Should I, the creator, not get a cut for the traffic my creations brings to the website I am hosting my stuff on?? Or shouldn’t the website proactively sue someone for violating the copyright on my creations, something that I have trusted this website with??

The Social Media has come a full circle, from the 90s, when you were only the audience, to the NOW, when you are the artist and you are the fan. So is your copyright holding it all together for you?? Are you being paid for the Intellectual Property that you are generating and hosting it with somebody?? I will leave you with questions here and continue on this topic sometime later, but will definitely finish it before I go in for the talk at BarCamp, where it is scheduled.

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2 Responses to “Web 2.0: The birth of Social Media and You”


  1. […] the corrigendum in it. Everyone seemed amused by the whole sequence of events. This was followed by a talk on “Bill of rights” by Kumar Rahul. This is a collection of points he plans to take up […]

  2. glommakeleath Says:

    I just want to take some money! 🙂
    Press here


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