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The Viral Web 2.0

Hello. My name is Hannah Dorland and got a computer virus last night. Four years ago I would have shrugged, shoved my laptop in my desk drawer, and picked up a textbook. Instead, last night I spent six consecutive hours running diagnostics, installing new security software, and running around like a chicken with its head cut off. I realized, as my screen turned blue and fuzzy, that with two online classes, a very active World of Warcraft account, and several thousand audio files and documents, I needed my computer.

This realization horrified me. I love the outdoors. Backpacking, camping, canoeing, and running are some of my favorite things. I never thought that I would be dependent upon a hunk of metal and plastic. But the reality is that it’s nearly impossible to be a functional member of society without at least basic computer skills. And mine far surpass basic. A self-proclaimed hack-girl, I’ve been tweaking operating systems since I first laid hands on a computer in 8th grade. Why do I love Web 2.0? Let me count the ways.

1. Open Source Software
As mentioned in Connect!, open source software allows continual improvement at the hands of people who actually use the stuff. In addition, it gives people who can’t shell out the $150 for the Adobe Suite a chance to learn and create and design with programs like Picnik and Scribus.

2. Free Media and Entertainment
Without much more effort than a Google search and username/password, you can watch unlimited movies and TV shows right on your desktop. My current favorite site is www.hulu.com, where I watch hours of “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia�? on end without commercial interruption. Web 2.0 is also great for musicians. Social networks like Myspace have given independent musicians a chance to be heard by people around the world.

Yes, I play World of Warcraft. That probably makes me a giant nerd. But with friends in other countries and states, it’s a great way to stay connected… and geek it out a bit.

I fixed my virus and breathed a sigh of relief. I went running shortly after just for good measure. Coming into this class, I expect to learn a lot about different Web 2.0 apps (Wikis, social networking, etc.) and their implications in our society. As a Scientific and Technical Communications major, this information will be useful as I transition from student to professional after graduating this summer. Will I ever be a “Web Worker�?? Probably not. But I’ll hopefully know how to collaborate with them.