My post below mentions "2.0" stuff. I've been dealing with this subject at work for the past year, but I know a lot of you have only recently heard this "buzzword" buzzing around like an unexplained annoying gnat that keeps getting in your ear, making it hard to think.
The e-patients blog yesterday has the best layperson's introduction I've ever seen for these key aspects of Web 2.0:
- wikis (Wikipedia is just one example)
- social networks
- social bookmarks.
The big deal about all this is "user generated content" (UGC). See, in the early days of the Web (now known as Web 1.0), the Web was read-only: all web "content" (the stuff you read or view) was created by people who had access to a Web server and knew all the geeky stuff you needed for hand coding a web page.
In contrast to that, today we can create content: Look, I'm sitting here right now, blogging about whatever I want - just as if I could conceive and write a book and get it printed and have it appear in every library in the world, instantly. (Because it IS, right now, available on every computer in the world that has an Internet connection, including my iPod Touch.)
This that you're reading, right here, is user-generated content.
And the big thing about THAT is that it's enabled us to spout our opinions, for instance rating books on Amazon or even posting our own book reviews, as short or as long as we want.
What this means in the world of e-patients is that we ourselves get to talk about anything we want; instead of reading only what a magazine editor thinks we want (or need to know), we ourselves get to start any discussion we want and take it anywhere we want.
You could put it this way: Web 2.0 means we get to say. We get to say whatever we want, and we even get to say what gets talked about.
This is a core principle cited in the e-patients white paper, which you really should read, in PDF or wiki form. More to come.