Sunday, April 26, 2009

Economic CPR with Web 2.0 Help or Hurt?

We have an ever evolving relationship with the Internet and Web 2.0, as individuals, as societies and perhaps as change-agent organizations. What the relationship is depends to a great largely, though not always, on how old you are and what is more important where you live. Below are a series of articles from the New York Times and other sources that I have run across over the last month or so.

At Harvard Business Voices Tom Davenport asks the question that seems to be asked by many of my generation, Is Web 2.0 Living on Thin Air?

I have highlighted some points from the article to get to the meat of his argument.
Instead of finding more ways for us to all yap at each other, in this more sober economy we may want to emphasize other priorities. What new products and services will make for better, healthier lives and relationships? How can companies improve their performance? How can teenagers improve their math and science skills, instead of their texting skills?

But it wouldn't be a bad outcome if the current crisis led to a more diligent, industrious economic climate. Chatting and socializing are important things, but they're not the only things.
Tamar Lewin's New York Times article makes a counter argument that Millennials are OK and that Teenagers' Internet Socializing is Not a Bad Thing US | November 20, 2008

Good news for worried parents: All those hours their teenagers spend socializing on the Internet are not a bad thing, according to a new study by the MacArthur Foundation.

Hanging out online helps teenagers develop "technological skills and literacy," a researcher
Mizuko Itoon a new study “Living and Learning With New Media.” said“...their participation is giving them the technological skills and literacy they need to succeed in the contemporary world. They’re learning how to get along with others, how to manage a public identity, how to create a home page.”

What is interesting me more these days is how this works socially to empower people. Because it does have the potential to empower people, governments are wary of it. NOAM COHEN discussed on December 08, 2008, in Link by Link: The Freedoms That Technologies Help Bring. The issue was the Egyptian government demand that Apple disable the phone's global-positioning system, because GPS is a military prerogative.

Arvind Ganesan, director of the business and human rights program of Human Rights Watch, placed the issue in a larger context.
(F)reedom of information as part of the broader, better known, freedom of expression. Transparency about the government’s budget, for example, can be crucial to eliminating corruption and instituting democratic reforms.

(S)econd, he argued that it was important for technology companies to set principles and follow them. “Here is the big question for Apple: Is this an ad-hoc approach or is there a fundamental policy, balancing the freedom of expression and information with the demands of the government?”
The global perspective in regards to economic impact came on November 18, 2008 from ASHLEE VANCE who looked at Computing From Weather to Warcraft
The falling cost of supercomputer systems has allowed a broader range of corporations and institutions to buy them for everything from processing movie graphics to searching for oil.

The presence of supercomputers in emerging nations like China and India says as much about those countries’ growing national ambitions as the changing state of science and business.
Change-agent organizations must and are becoming a part of this new frontier. The question of whether to change is now moot, it is already happening. Defining the change is now the task. There are many seemingly well-established institutions in existence today that are not making the transition which will, I predict, find themselves floundering when younger and smaller institutions use these resources to define the agenda. This in itself is not that illuminating as many others have said the same thing, it is that I work for one of those well-established institutions.

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