Today is OneWebDay a celebration of the community that exists on the web. It’s a day to celebrate this great huge thing that exists all around the world. In my opinion it’s the one thing that we can all share in. There are no borders, no real class systems that block people from coming on board, there is just this space that we can all share, create and explore together. This isn’t something that can be necessarily controlled, what is taboo in one place may be perfectly fine in another. A space exists for all, whether it be large corporate sites that are entirely commercial to user generated content sites that make money for the creators as well as the owners of the site to totally informational sites about every subject under the sun and beyond and even blogs and other personal sites that are merely there as an outlet to express themselves to others around the world.
I’m proud to be a part of that community, I not only contribute here with my personal thoughts, links and stories but I have also built several websites of varying success for commercial enterprises. The tools that we use to build this community are not just tools; they are works of art. We can use simple tools like notepad and other text editors, complex HTML and WYSIWYG tools and even drag and drop tools that don’t require any knowledge of design or code. Anyone can create a page or site in just a few minutes.
Of course the real gift to community is not the design, layout, and technology of the web, but the content that can be delivered on it. Sites like Wikipedia are not particularly well designed, simple text, images and links are all it takes to get the correct information to you. Other sites like sports sites, news sites, and most social networking sites are enormous arrays of code, images, text, video and community modules that function as a huge organism in and of itself. The content makes the site however. How do you want your information? Do you want simply information in its simplest form, which in my opinion is simple hyperlinked text or do you want to watch a sports event clear across the world with live video? You can have both or something entirely different, look around, if you want it, you can find it and if not, build it, someone else might be looking for it too!
We all contribute here on basically level ground. A large corporation and purveyor of information like CNN must compete with a simple young blogger for readers. Perhaps CNN offers the most complete analysis of the particular story of interest but if the blogger is eyewitness to the event they may have insight that CNN could never hope to have. We are a community and as such must interact with all around us, big, little, corporate and personal.
The community on the web has changed for me in the last year greatly. I’ve changed the way I work on the web and on a computer in general. With my recent acquisition of a Mac I have been thinking of getting a Windows virtual machine software solution to install my software on. I realized quickly though that there is really nothing that I need Windows software for. I use the web for nearly everything I do, I use Quicken, iTunes, and MS Office all of which can be used on the Mac and everything else can be found on the web. We don’t need smart computers anymore, we need a smart network that we can always be connected to.
Since the last OneWebDay I have changed my social networking approach. I’m on Facebook but greatly reduced my friends after a long hiatus from the site altogether. I didn’t want to be involved in the community in the aspect that it was being used. I like using sites like Facebook to stay in touch with friends, but pushing all of their information to me all the time got annoying. I don’t need to know every little thing that people do. I see social networks as a solution to email, a simple way to keep in touch with select people about select things without the need to remember everyone in particular all the time. Sites like Twitter make it possible to send out quick updates on your stream of consciousness quickly but low adoption by the masses have hurt them into being a true way of communication. In the future I think that these sites will catch on with the generation yet to come but being connected in general will continue to grow in ways that we can’t even begin to think of yet.
Tools like the iPhone, Blackberries and smaller and smaller laptops have made keeping up on the happenings of your friends, business contacts, and even news stories all over the world nearly entirely ubiquitous. This is the future, always connected to each other. The way that it’s implemented will be crucial to the future though. There has to be a happy medium between pull and push information. I want to know what my friends are up to, but I don’t need to know exactly what they are doing all the time. I want to know about important news topics during the day, but I don’t need it right now all the time. I want to be able to contact anyone I need at the drop of a hat though in various ways including SMS, email, and voice. Connecting the infrastructure of the old media, phone, television and radio with the infrastructure of the new media like SMS, podcasting, and the web in general will be the next step. How can I get one device to connect me to the world anytime all the time without being cumbersome or bothersome?
I encourage you to participate in this community, in whatever way you can, a blog, a photosite, a podcast, reporting news important to you (firsthand or not), even just adding comments to forums, blogs, and other chances at be social in this space is important. We have built this community and must continue to help it grow.