Web 2.0 and fragmentation

30 04 2008

I read an interesting posting by Alexander Vanelsas regarding web 2.0 and the problem of fragmentation. He states, quite amusingly….

If anything the current web 2.0 trend is fragmentation. There are thousands of social networking sites out there, each fighting a battle to get users. There are a whole lot of services that let you interact, publish, follow or be followed. There are aggregating sites that aggregate it all for you. There are aggregators that aggregate all the content from the sites that already aggregate content for you. And if that wasn’t enough we now need to take it away from the browser and move each of these services into tiny little desktop application.

How can we expect our teachers to start to explore web 2.0 technologies when techies, such as us, have such a difficult time keeping up with all of the new developments?

I read Techcrunch every couple of days, and I am constantly amazed by the number of new services that seem to be nothing more than repackaging of the same content. How many social networking sites do we really need? Just the other day I had a teacher ask me why she should use a specific bookmarking tool when there were so many to choose from? I can make recommendations, but can I ensure her that a particular service will be still working in a year? 2 years? I can’t. Teachers are already wary to invest the time in technology, and are even more so if they are not sure what they are learning will have lasting value.

As Alexander states later in the same article:

How many people do you know outside your tech community that want to have 25 desktop applications live, running Firefox alongside with 10 tabs open, twittering 100 times a day, reading and commenting articles on Friendfeed, writing a blog post about it, starting riots to get traffic going, AND still have a normal day job and a life after that?

I think he hits the nail on the head. We have to step back and realize that we are the minority in the education world. Most teachers don’t have the time, patience, and interest needed to try out every new service they can get their hands on. Until teachers can understand and investigate web 2.0 technologies on their own, I guess it’s up to us to filter through the hundreds of different services, looking for those real gems that can truly change the classroom experience, and then hope that they stick around long enough to use them!