Web 2.0 - it’s not just for kids

And I’m not saying that because I spend a good chunk of my day trying to understanding the nuances of the changing web 2.0 environment or how people are harnessing the power of the net in fun and creative ways. I’m also not saying that to defend my professionalism or my age - which despite my youthful looks - is pushing up against the 30-something mark. Whether I’m presenting on this type of information in the workplace, or responding to lectures or presentations about web 2.0, oftentimes I get skeptical looks when I share what I feel to be the power of these interactive and community-driven tools. But then these skeptics give me a once-over, do a double-take, and then they have their “Ah Ha” moment. Silly girl. She only finds these tools exciting because she’s just a kid!

I spend time using these tools NOT because I’m young, but because it’s part of my job. Maybe I just happen to be well-educated in the work that I do and I consider it imperative to know what’s out there and at least be semi-versed in it. Would you believe a year ago when I was living in Kenya I had little to nothing to do with these sites? I determined last fall that this was the kind of career I wanted and therefore I needed to go about learning the industry. And I did.

In order to understand the power of these tools (and subsequently what their impact is on your audience or user base), you have to USE these tools yourself. Knowledge about web 2.0 may be skewed a bit in the direction of the younger demographic, but after months of being involved in online communities regarding these technologies, I’m very aware that if you’re doing your job well, you at least know about them - regardless if you’re 20 or 65. Most of the people I look up to in this industry happen to be at least 5 years my senior, and for the most part, they’re using these tools - Facebook, Twitter, blogging, Del.icio.us, RSS feeds - more than me! And why shouldn’t they? If you’re in any way involved in marketing or communications or claim to be an expert on web design - web 2.0 - whether you like it or not - has ALSO become your business. Just because these tools sometimes have a fun or creative component to them doesn’t mean they are any less effective in building communities or segmenting your audience. Contrary to that - these tools have empowered us more than ever before in terms of being able to reach people of all ages on the media that best suits them, all while customizing content AND having fun. If this weren’t the case, do you think ‘08 political campaigns would be so tuned in to what people are using and how they can tap into those audiences? Have you looked at the number of web 2.0 applications each of these candidates sites link to?

My knowledge of Facebook or Twitter has little to do with my age, but more to do with the fact that I’m concerned with offering the most to my employer and the non-profit community. While I agree (and periodically complain) that these sites can be a huge time suck, it’s my job, so I’m going to be as familiar as I can without going crazy :o). Most days I wish there were more hours for me to catch up on all my feeds or post to this blog or upload more pictures to Flickr. But, I ALSO love spending time outdoors, spending time with friends, and getting away from my computer as much as I can - you know, enjoying the WORLD 2.0! When I am sitting in front of that glowing screen, however, I am going to maximize my time for the benefit of my own career and the success of my employer. And I probably will be saying the same thing 20 years from now.

This post is dedicated to Beth - the hippest “Adult” I know who uses Web 2.0 <grin>.

3 Responses to “Web 2.0 - it’s not just for kids”

  1. 1 Elizabeth Dunn

    Amen to all that! I feel like you’ve got a microphone inside my head, that all was so true to what I am experiencing right now in my world.

    “My knowledge of Facebook or Twitter has little to do with my age, but more to do with the fact that I’m concerned with offering the most to my employer and the non-profit community.”

    Could not have said it better. Although I am not under 20 anymore, at the advanced and sagacious age of 36, it seems like I am the youngest professional person within shouting distance in my geographic region, which is mostly populated by retirees and second-home owners. So I guess I am the equivalent of a 24-year old around here.

    So hey, I get the same “silly girl” looks, too. But I find all this web 2.0 stuff so damn fascinating I just can’t care.

    Great blog, great post.

  2. 2 Richard

    Have you considered the liabilities of interactive web technologies? Going broad and not deep (being involved in numerous discussions, tracking posts, tracking twitter, etc.) amplifies environmental ADD to the point where it becomes difficult to think deeply about important things.

    I know you have a problem with RSS but it seems to me that it’s part of the solution to make this mess of input manageable.

    YOu might find this interesting, just for a bit of background on these ideas:


  3. 3 Michaela

    Hi Richard. You raise a lot of good points. I think there is a great opportunity here for non profits and academic technologists to find creative ways to “go deep” with these interactive web technologies instead of having just a pinky toe in each of the bazillion tools out there, thus mobilizing focus instead of slicing it up beyond repair.

    I don’t think the answer to “jumping in” involves using lots of different tools in small amounts, but rather creating deeper and more meaningful presences on these sites with a more focused mission. I think tools such as Facebook, which allow participants to be advocates for causes they believe in through fundraising, petition-signing, and community mobilization, have great potential for harnessing the focus of audiences and encouraging them to think deeply.

    I know as more social tools evolve, environmental ADD will continue to be stretch, and I think we all struggle with it. It’s now come to the point where one needs to make conscious decisions about what they will and won’t take a bite out of, but so much of this stuff is so new, it’s hard to determine what tools are the keepers without test-driving them in the first place.

    I look forward to reading that article.

Leave a Reply