Outdated are the traditional methods of media, such as broadcast; in its place is a constantly changing online world of improving programs and Betas. The constant news cycle and instant access to information online leaves web goers inundated with options. At their fingertips is the power of their own media consumption.

O’Reilly’s definition of Web 2.0 is highly dependent on the idea of social media. With Web 2.0 as the all encompassing platform for the new age of the internet, social media brings together the interconnectedness of the internet.

Social Media
Social media blends together the audience and the media, leaving little distinction between the two. This kind of participatory involvement online allows everybody to create blogs, join social networks, and participate in forums. Social media encourages participation, openness, conversation, community, and connectedness. Without these important factors, Web 2.0 would be ineffective. Websites such as Flickr and YouTube would quickly dwindle in numbers if there wasn’t a participatory factor to them.

Power of one
The notion of controlling what is consumed has been of special note lately, with even Time magazine labeling the esteemed 2006 Person Of The Year as “You”–the consumer, average citizen, and pinncacle of today’s internet and journalism markets. “You” was made Person Of The Year through one very important gateway: the revolution of the World Wide Web.

So who consumes this type of media?
Media consumption is no longer about who owns networks and production companies, but rather any average Joe that has access to a computer. RSS feeds, Google News Reader, and deli.cio.us are all examples of the personalized aspect of the Web 2.0. With an ever growing population, the online world can feel incredibly tight knit, with connections within communities and networks. Common interests develop platforms for discourse and sharing. Social networks like Facebook and MySpace have a huge following online. Members of these communities list details about themselves and connect with their friends online. Links to other websites, such as YouTube videos, can also be posted to a person’s profile page. The interconnectedness of this notion is the very idea behind O’Reilly’s Web 2.0.

In addition to consuming social media in this way, participants are also able to pick and choose when they will be exposed to the online world. YouTube, Flickr, and Podcasts all make it incredibly easy to access information 24 hours a day, despite the actual programming time. Networks are even putting their evening programs on their websites to encourage ciewers to watch the TV shows on their own time.

The credibility of interactivity
The interactive feature of the online world is what keeps participants coming back for the newest and latest developments. The trust instilled in programs such as Wikipedia makes almost every webgoer somewhat credible in their own rite. In addition, the simplicity of so many programs makes the average webgoer very comfortable with exploring new websites.

Despite these strengths, Wikipedia falls under an umbrella of concern for many users. Many schools have forbidden the use of Wikipedia in its schools, and a US senator is even aiming to eliminate it officially from all schools and libraries. While US Senator Ted Stevens claims that this would eliminate predator interaction with children, many others argue that Wikipedia cannot be viewed as a credible source.

The future of Web 2.0
Web 2.0 views the internet as a platform for a variety of things. Models and programs are constantly updating to include the most recent technologies. In doing so, the websites are now built to simplify yet maximize the experience of those in the online community. Social media is at the forefront of what makes Web 2.0 so successful and essential for our use.

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