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Volume 12 / Issue 2

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DOI:   10.3217/jucs-012-02-0187


The Transformation of the Web: How Emerging Communities Shape the Information we Consume

Josef Kolbitsch (Graz University of Technology, Austria)

Hermann Maurer (Institute for Information Systems and Computer Media, Graz University of Technology, Austria)

Abstract: To date, one of the main aims of the World Wide Web has been to provide users with information. In addition to private homepages, large professional information providers, including news services, companies, and other organisations have set up web-sites. With the development and advance of recent technologies such as wikis, blogs, podcasting and file sharing this model is challenged and community-driven services are gaining influence rapidly. These new paradigms obliterate the clear distinction between information providers and consumers. The lines between producers and consumers are blurred even more by services such as Wikipedia, where every reader can become an author, instantly.

This paper presents an overview of a broad selection of current technologies and services: blogs, wikis including Wikipedia and Wikinews, social networks such as Friendster and Orkut as well as related social services like del.icio.us, file sharing tools such as Flickr, and podcasting. These services enable user participation on the Web and manage to recruit a large number of users as authors of new content. It is argued that the transformations the Web is subject to are not driven by new technologies but by a fundamental mind shift that encourages individuals to take part in developing new structures and content. The evolving services and technologies encourage ordinary users to make their knowledge explicit and help a collective intelligence to develop.

Keywords: blogs, collaborative work, community building, emergence, file sharing, information systems, podcasting, self-organisation, social networks, web-based applications, wikis

Categories: H.3.4, H.3.5, H.3.7, H.4.3, H.5.1