Web 2.0, the movie

by Paul Jay, CBC News online

Michael Wesch, an assistant professor of cultural anthropology at Kansas State University, posted a video on YouTube last Wednesday on Web 2.0 entitled "Web 2.0 ... The Machine is Us/ing Us." It's a fascinating attempt to distill the essence of the internet today in a five minute video, complete with a techno soundtrack.

Wesch's video explains the evolution of the written word from text to hypertext to xml to the open-source shared universe of Web 2.0 and does so entirely through the very text it seeks to explain. It's also become, according to the online academic journal Inside Higher Ed, an overnight sensation.

First posted a week ago, it already has over 120,000 views on YouTube, a rare event for what amounts to an academic treatise.

"I was totally amazed," Wesch said. "My guess is that [the subject matter of the video] is attractive to the people who can make a video become popular," — the bloggers, techies and news junkies who habitually pass on their favorite links to others...

"I was trying to explain this stuff in the traditional paper format, and I thought, 'This is ironic,'" he said. "I can illustrate this much better in a video."

In an only-on-the-internet way, it's both an interesting distillation of Web 2.0 and a classic example of it. How wonderfully meta.