Two stories about web 2.0, networked communication, and social object ecologies, both starting here in Vermont.
Story 1: driving along a local road to our town of Ripton, I noticed that the community middle school had produced a memorial to Americans killed in the Iraq war. I dug out my camera and took several photos, notably this one.
A week later someone from The Nation contacts me, asking if they can use the photo on their site. Bonus: a free t-shirt. Naturally I agree. Twist: they urge me to recopyright that photo under one Creative Commons license, which I do. Am wearing the nice black shirt as I write this post.
Why this matters: it's a classic web 2.0 story, with microcontent connecting people along lines of shared interest, based on what Ton Zylstra calls "social objects." Very easy, fluid, direct.
It's also a digital photography story. I was never trained in still photography, but digital cameras famously let us shoot, reshoot, and shoot again, increasing practice and skills. The material limitations of print photography didn't let me do that so readily.
And a frustration: I can't point you to the magazine's use of the picture, because they cycled through a series of images. Moreover, the search function turns up nothing. We're still figuring out web 2.0.
Story two: one year ago I took this picture of two paths in Middlebury, Vermont. Cell phone in hand, I was struck by how clearly the pair of tracks embodied the desire path (or desire line) idea:
One path, on the right, was laid down for expected foot traffic; said foot traffic often cut left instead, leaving a deepening record of that decision. It's a useful image for my work (although a poor photo, reflecting my lack of experience with the phone, then). Some folks commented on it.
Then, one year later, GeorgieR comes across the photo, and recommends that I add it to a Flickr pool for desire paths. I didn't know such a group existed, so I check it out, add the pic, and start following the pool.
What to make of this? For one, the underappreciated archive spirit of web 2.0. The picture remained on flickr for twelve months before this happened. Not all of the "live web" is about the present tense.
For another, it's a good, small example of Ton Zylstra's "social object" concept. The photo linked Georgie with myself, intrisic to the platform. We didn't connect by interest or profile, but by a digital object of mutual interest.
How are we acculturating these practices? Is this sort of social object networking part of information literacy, media literacy? How often does popular culture represent this practice in tv news, search scenes in movies? And academia, from scholarly bibliography practices to general pedagogy, from The Chronicle to advising grad students, how are we making, sharing, digesting such stories?