Web 2.0

Radical trust & Web 2.0

Cath Styles from the National Archives of Australia has a nice succinct summary of Web 2.0 presented as a paper to the Australian Historical Association online at Assembly. It is a easy read and another straightforward overview of the range of technologies Web 2.0 embodies as well as some of the more relevant examples from the libraries, archives, museums and galleries sector (and it is Australian!).

Like Jim Spadaccini from Ideum I picked up on her use of the term ‘radical trust’ which emerged from the library sector earlier this year. Radical trust means trusting users not to muck things up (and rewarding them with control in return). This is a nice way of describing the promise of Web 2.0 but as Benkler continually reminds us, this promise is only going to be achieved with appropriate legislative support and change – not least of all in terms of intellectual property law. It should also be stressed that most ‘systems’ of trust in Web 2.0 applications are specifically constructed to encourage and protect, through safeguards and small but not insignificant ‘barriers to participation’ (Wikipedia’s login and lock controls, Slashdot’s reputation system, Google’s continual tweaking of PageRank etc) what is being described as ‘trust’.

I’ve been re-reading Eric Davis’ Techgnosis: Myth, Magic & Mysticism in the Information Age from 1999 and Davis neatly (and rather floridly) examines the underlying spiritual and mystical qualities that us as humans, have been applying to technology since the earliest days. Drawing on examples from electricity and the telephone through to the post-bust Dot Com era, it is again a timely reminder that there is a certain attraction in technological promise that is far from rational.

As much as I like the term and the idea, part of the appeal of the term ‘radical trust’ is its quasi-moralistic/spiritiual/revolutionary tone.

One reply on “Radical trust & Web 2.0”

Theorizing Web 2.0 for Museums
Hey Seb
Thanks for this article and the link to Jim Spadaccini from Ideum. His presentation of Web 2.0 for museums is quite interesting! I’ve been preparing a paper on social media in musuems and this link to ‘radical trust’ couldn’t come at a better time. I’m trying to find a way of addressing the shift from semiotically driven object function to “making meaning” through social media. The communication systems that were written about in the late from the 80s through the 90s are still relevant but I’ve struggled with finding a theoretical advantage to social media within that context. Long tail, high and low barriers to particpation, radical trust – what other underpinning theories for social media could be parallelled to existing musuem theory?

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