2015 marks 10 years since the publication of “What Is Web 2.0?”, Tim O’Reilly’s influential declaration of Web 2.0’s practical and conceptual underpinnings. In the intervening years, the popularity of Web 2.0 as a descriptive term has waxed and waned. At the same time, however, the platforms, principles, and ideologies that ushered in the Web 2.0 Era have only grown in their relevance: concerns over labor and social production have persisted in, for example, critical discussions of personal data ownership or the “sharing economy;” questions of exploitation and dominance are increasingly pressing in the face of the power and reach exhibited by companies like Google, Facebook, or Twitter; as knowledge platforms like Wikipedia have flourished, so have concerns over diminished critical-thinking skills and the monopolization of knowledge; and, finally, critical attention to the (often tenuous) relationship between democracy and participatory platforms remains vital to understanding the power of social media tools for facilitating social and political protest at the same time as it enables new opportunities for surveillance and political repression. In addition, while social networking sites and tools have provided unparalleled opportunities to connect, communicate, and share, they’ve also given rise to problems of identity management, cyberbullying, revenge porn, and (sometimes cruel) practices of trolling.
Under various guises, Web 2.0 has retained an ability to expand social, political, and economic opportunity while at the same time fostering resistance and controversy in its reach and ideological commitments.
In 2008, First Monday published a special issue on “Critical Perspectives on Web 2.0” bringing together a diverse group of scholars to “expose, explore and explain the ideological meanings and the social, political, and ethical implications of Web 2.0”. These contributions addressed issues of labor, privacy, exploitation, and broader conceptual and practical implications of participatory platforms and social production online.
In light of Web 2.0’s continued relevance and impact, we are pleased to edit a new special issue of First Monday – A Decade of Web 2.0: Reflections, Critical Perspectives, and Beyond – that aims to update and extend previous critical assessments of online social and participatory platforms and practices.