The openness of the Internet is as potentially damaging as it is beneficial. As seen in the article on cybersquatting, the Internet allows anyone to register a website domain and anyone to post their own content.
While this freedom has been around for a while, the emergency of user-produced and edited content, known as Web 2.0, opens news doors. With Wikipedia.org, the accuracy of the information is brought into question. Inaccuracies can become commonplace, not just through the efforts of malicious individuals, but with unintentional errors as well.
The growing evolution of the Internet to one completely user created and designed is an undeniable trend. Information as updated and altered on the fly by different users is a major facet of Web 2.0, a buzzword to convey the interactivity of the web. As with anything that is here to stay, it is important that we all learn to use the tool responsibly, making use of the many positives while avoiding some potential downfalls.
It should be the user’s responsibility to seek out reliable information. The portrayed dichotomy of the web becoming either ‘a dictatorship of the idiots’ or a place where ‘the cream will rise to the top’ need not necessarily hold. Perhaps the most exciting component of the internet revolution is the possibility of engaging a multiplicity of voices, most otherwise unheard. Yet the free spread of opinion should not foster an ‘anything goes’ mentality.
Especially for students, the need to check sources and corroborate evidence is essential. The Web 2.0 revolution should underscore, rather than undermine, this point. Just because steam engines made human labor as an energy source obsolete doesn’t mean that Wikipedia will do the same for rigorous inquiry. The unprecedented interaction of Web 2.0 is potentially extremely fruitful, but students must still take the effort to use it responsibly.