Feeds

The cold, cold heart of Web 2.0

On the people-powered net, you're just another number

SANS - Survey on application security programs

What's missing from the numbers

But in both cases there is a crucial aspect of human relations that is missed out and threatened as a result. This is that the means by which people discover, choose or access something can very often contribute its value. People are not only outcome-oriented.

Technologies such as recommendation systems, used most prominently by Amazon.com to help people find books and music they may like, can erode valuable processes by which people discover new authors or artists. The process of discovery is speeded up to the point where the end product also becomes that much more disposable. Bands now shoot to fame with their first record, then disappear soon after. The pursuit of maximum convenience in the cultural sphere risks dissolving what we value in it in the first place.

Outside of the economy - and very often within the economy too - we find that the constraints and accidents of everyday life are the basis for enjoyable and meaningful activities. They don't necessarily connect us to the people we most want to speak to or the music we most want to listen to. Sometimes they even frustrate us.

But this shouldn't lead to business process re-engineering. Becker would disagree, but when we vote, chat to neighbours, browse through a record shop we are not seeking some outcome in the most efficient manner available. We are engaging in an activity that we find valuable.

Undoubtedly there are instances where we do want our social lives to be more efficient. Organising a party can be time-consuming and tedious, and the fact that Facebook now makes this vastly easier is scarcely going to harm the atmosphere of the party.

But we should worry about this psychology seeping too far into our lives. What if there were an application that could make it easier to pass on my love to a family-member? What if I no longer needed to read books in order to cite them, but could search the quotes other people had extracted from them?

The irony is that Web 2.0 has been heralded as the dawn of a new era of community and togetherness. Through the financial eyes of a venture capitalist, this may appear to be true. For the rest of us, what this means is that community is now available to manipulate, choose and consume.

William Davies is a sociologist and policy analyst. His weblog is at Potlatch

3 Big data security analytics techniques

More from The Register

next story
Next Windows obsolescence panic is 450 days from … NOW!
The clock is ticking louder for Windows Server 2003 R2 users
This time it's 'Personal': new Office 365 sub covers just two devices
Redmond also brings Office into Google's back yard
Ubuntu 14.04 LTS: Great changes, but sssh don't mention the...
Why HELLO Amazon! You weren't here last time
Half of Twitter's 'active users' are SILENT STALKERS
Nearly 50% have NEVER tweeted a word
Ditch the sync, paddle in the Streem: Upstart offers syncless sharing
Upload, delete and carry on sharing afterwards?
Microsoft TIER SMEAR changes app prices whether devs ask or not
Some go up, some go down, Redmond goes silent
Batten down the hatches, Ubuntu 14.04 LTS due in TWO DAYS
Admins dab straining server brows in advance of Trusty Tahr's long-term support landing
Red Hat to ship RHEL 7 release candidate with a taste of container tech
Grab 'near-final' version of next Enterprise Linux next week
Windows 8.1, which you probably haven't upgraded to yet, ALREADY OBSOLETE
Pre-Update versions of new Windows version will no longer support patches
prev story

Whitepapers

Mainstay ROI - Does application security pay?
In this whitepaper learn how you and your enterprise might benefit from better software security.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.