Web 2.0 and HCI

Or Human Collective Intelligence, as it now is, not Human Computer Interface/Interaction as it was a month ago. The Web 2.0 conference has finished and this post mortem from Tim O’Reilly caught my attention. There is a powerful attraction in the idea that Web 2.0 is broader than simply ‘social content’, or the ‘User Generated Content’ that seems to be the most obvious feature of services like Flickr or MySpace. If Web 2.0 is about collective intelligence there is obviously a major challenge in capturing the legacy of the past and the undigitised cultural knowledge that is stored in books, libraries and museums (cf Wikipedia, Google Book Search etc). Or indeed in newspaper and magazine archives.

So, we find this broader vision for Web 2.0 attractive, but the new meaning for HCI is amusingly at odds with the old acronym. The old meaning sees computers as objects/tools with which we interact and frankly they are pretty obtuse and stupid, which is why we would like to have them smarten up, soften up and we try to conjure up a human interface to them (WYSIWYG if not smiling paper clips). But now HCI is about us, as a group or a species, and about the computer network as a primary manifestation of human intelligence, and the network as cultural phenomenon. Its getting to be quite fluffy, dont you think?

If we have much more of this we will see a revival of interest in the noosphere and Teilhard de Chardin. He was clearly thinking along Web 2.0 lines.

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