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The metamorphose from “citizens” to “users: 10 years of Web 2.0

web 2.0
Laura Bernis.– Facebook has recently celebrated its tenth anniversary. Mark Zuckerberg launched this gigantic platform the 4th of February of 2004, and it has since become the highest expression of nowadays social networks. Society has evolved together with Internet, and the great change has come given by social media and all the webpages which enable individuals to become transmitters of the information they consume. Nevertheless, everything comes at its price, and “users” are starting to become the advertisers’ “products”, at the same time as their privacy and security keeps diminishing, because, if anyone can write online, how do we trust the veracity of what we read? To which extent has the journalists’ profession changed?

Previous to Facebook’s origin, Wikipedia, Blogger, Myspace, WordPress, Linkedin, etc, already existed. Subsequently, Youtube, Twitter, Tumblr, Spotify, Whatsapp, Instagram or Google+ appeared, together with many other platforms. Obviously peoples’ day to day has been transformed due to their presence. Could we live without Twitter? Without knowing the most recent events that have occurred anywhere in the world? Or could we live with 5 or 6 real friends instead of the 500 virtual acquaintances we now have? Would it be possible to live a single day without publishing on the network what we do or think at every minute?

The perception of the world without all these is almost unconceivable. We are used to living the present, to knowing what takes place on our narrow-vast world every minute (if not every second). The Web 2.0’s speed is tremendous! Who could have guessed ten years ago –probably not even Zuckerberg- that with smartphones’ appearance and spreading everyone could be online any moment and anywhere, logged into social networks, which would become even more powerful. Because there are three keys that explain the social web pages and free platforms, and that were clearly explained by “Ara” newspaper on the “Theme of the day”, last 7th of February: freedom, technical easiness and mobility.

Anyone can be part of this new world symbolized by the Web 2.0. The term 2.0 is being used since 1999, although it started to gain rename thanks to Tim O’Reilly, who popularized it around 2004, same year when Facebook was created. Today, social networks such as Facebook and Twitter have become essential to numerous social movements (such as the “Indignats”), to social revolutions and dictators’ removals (the Arab Spring is a great example), but they are also used as a mean to express opinions freely, demonstrate discontent towards anything, etc. Attaining to become what we know as “cyberactivism”.

Ara - 10 anys 2.0 - 09-02-2014 PORTADA

Ara’s 9th of February 2014 cover

The online activity is brisk, and the journalistic world cannot compete with this agility. As the “Ara” newspaper very well compiles, journalism has to try to be “superior”: more reliable and profound. Journalism has to find its place sorting out the enormous quantity of information emerged from the Internet, and has to attempt to disconnect content from mere advertising. Internet has resulted on a great change for the occupation, impelling many conventional media companies to launch their digital edition too. Internet can carry disadvantages (information accumulation, loss of the information “monopoly”, anyone can become a “journalist” only by having a smartphone with camera and uploading a video on Youtube, the readers’ fidelity is endangered, because, why should they buy a newspaper if they can have the same information freely on the Internet?). Nevertheless, it implies many advantages, as the “Ara” newspaper seems to really take into account. In order to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Web 2.0, the Catalan newspaper offered, last 7th of February, free access to “Premium” content for all registered users of Ara.cat, instead of the usual display of the daily publications, as usual.

Web 2.0 has cooperated in colossal upraises, it is the channel which has brought to light information such as Julian Assange’s –Wikileaks-, or Edward Snowden’s, it has provided undeniable changes on society and its perception of the world. However, the price to pay has to be considered, as the 2.0 “giants” do not produce content, but their users are the ones who generate it, so it has to be taken into account that the information generated in pages such as Facebook is sold to advertisers. Are we working for the construction of a massive database? Who is making profit of our information and, actually, of our private life?

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