Whether you love or hate the Web 2.0 meme, you have to admit it’s gained a lot of traction in both tech and business circles. Now we’re beginning to see cultural and sociological posts about Web 2.0, although Danah Boyd and Barb Dybwad have both written great posts on similar themes in the past.
Anil Dash wrote that the Web 2.0 conference last week had some “cultural myopia”, because it was attended mostly by an “Old Boy’s Club” of mostly white middle class males. Anil brought up a very good point related to that: Web companies these days want to be both media and technology companies, so they need to “connect with a wide variety of audiences”.
In one way, Anil’s point was illustrated by the attention the What Teens Want panel got at the conference. A lot of people told me it was their favorite panel, because it opened their eyes to a world they previously knew nothing about – how teenagers use new media and what products they use. For example a lot of folks I spoke to seemed shocked that the teenagers on the panel never pay for media and they rip n’ burn whenever possible.
Dare Obasanjo amplified Anil’s point in a follow-up post:
“Most of the speakers and attendees are white males in their mid-twenties to mid-thirties. There are few blacks, women, indians or east asians. Much fewer than I’m used to seeing during my typical workday or at other conferences I have attended.”
There’s not much I can say to that, being squarely in the white middle class male demographic. The only minority aspect of me in the Web 2.0 world is that I live and work from the other side of the world, in New Zealand. And having been in Silicon Valley for two weeks, I can confirm that I’d be a lot more successful in Web 2.0 if I was based in California. I don’t think that counts as discrimination though.
Incidentally: before I pursue my American Dream, I need to somehow get a working visa. Talk about cultural obstacles for Web 2.0 – do you know how hard it is for a non-US citizen to get a visa to work here?! Anyway, that’s a topic for another post…
To wrap up, Lucas Gonze has a post about the class system of the Web:
“The web is middle class, filesharing networks are street, pay-per-download DRM stores are aristocracy. The technology implies a literal pecking order.”
I have to say, it’s great to see these issues being discussed. It makes a nice change from all the Web 2.0 definitions and bubble talk that have dominated the conversation lately. I’d much rather hear people challenging the cultural and sociological aspects of Web 2.0, than read another stupid list of what isn’t Web 2.0 or moralizing posts about the current 2.0 bubble. Let’s keep the conversation about Web 2.0 diverse and forward-thinking.