From Users to Prosumers: How Web 2.0 Sparked a Worldwide Sense of Empowerment
The masterpiece Where Do We Come From? Who Are We? Where Are We Going? by Paul Gauguin is a profound expression of the artist’s spiritual beliefs, and has served as a significant source of inspiration for my research on our post-digital society. The painting not only represents the cyclical nature of life and death but also reflects on the human experience and our place within the universe. Through Gauguin’s work, I am reminded of the importance of exploring the complexities of our society and the ways in which technology has shaped our understanding of ourselves and the world around us. This painting invites us to reflect on fundamental questions about our existence and the meaning of life, just as it encourages us to think deeply about our relationship with technology and how it shapes our identity and sense of self.
Currently, I am writing my first book, and my idea is that — to understand who we are and where we are going — we must first analyze where we have been. This requires us to examine the evolution from Web 1.0 to Web 2.0, which allowed for dynamic interaction and user-generated content (UGC).
And so, in this article, I will attempt to clarify why I believe that this was the catalyst that ignited a sense of empowerment within us.
The Evolution of the Web: From Static Sites to User-Generated Content
Web 1.0 was characterized by static websites that were created by one person for the use of many; examples of which include early versions of Yahoo, Geocities, and AOL, which featured limited interactive elements and few user-generated content. With the advent of Web 2.0, we became “prosumers” of digital content on social media and blogging platforms, meaning we shared and created content through various media. (Note, Alvin Toffler coined the term “prosumer” to represent the dual value of our actions as both producers and consumers.)
Not only did Web 2.0 spark our curiosity, it encouraged us to become more socially engaged, leading us to share a wide range of content, such as videos, photos, texts, articles, and books.
As we grew motivated by the interaction and feedback we received from others, companies started sponsoring their products or services on these platforms, generating revenue for the platform owner. With the rise of social media, video sharing and blogging platforms, some sites recognized the potential of content…