Monday, April 09, 2007

Social network me that neutral Web 2.0

I never thought I would say this, but I've actually read something written by Andrew Orlowski which has not prompted me to throw things at my computer screen in anger. In an article on Net Neutrality, he has actually uncovered something that has been worrying me since I first heard about the debate. The big problem is, how do you define the term? You can get five different definitions from Wikipedia alone.

But this is not a post about net neutrality, I don't know enough about the subject to comment intelligently on it. However, this is a Monday morning rant against easy sound bites and complacent application of terms just because they sound good. Web 2.0 is one of those terms, similar to social networking and other neologisms prevalent in technology writing.


Daithí said...

While Orlowski is always entertaining, especially when he is having a go at the latest hysteria, I think (especially for a journalist who delights in popping the Wikiballoon) he's overstating his case by saying that the existence of different definitions on Wikipedia is a problem. The Wiki page in question is just like a fairly average quasi-academic essay. I.e. in the way that you'd start a paper on religious fundamentalism by saying that there were different types of fundamentalism of varying degrees of intensity, the page tries to unpack the different approaches to neutrality. EVERYTHING (especially when sociologists get involved ;) ) has ten possible definitions.

HandsOff said...

I do some consulting work with and would assert that "Net neutrality" is a perfect example of a term that sounds good but means very little in the real world. The biggest problem with the term is that the Internet is not now nor has it ever been truly neutral. As UK's most prominent internet engineer, Professor Jon Crowcroft of Cambridge University, stated in a recent Guardian article, "Net Neutrality is a misdirection, a red herring." He continues, "The internet has never been neutral. [...] Without traffic shaping, we won't get the convergence that allows the innovation on TV and online games that we've seen in data and telephony."