Friday, December 3, 2010

The Critical Vocabulary of Web 2.0 Technology

Access to understanding any complex concept, whether it's the periodic table, our system of democratic government, or geometry proofs, starts with understanding the vocabulary of the complex concept. Technology is not for want in the area of nomenclature; in fact, many an administrator turns away from even trying  any web applications, no matter how technically simple because of the jargon. So, here is a primer, a no-nonsense list of critical vocabulary (with definitions and some examples) to be used as a springboard and anxiety treatment. Hopefully the list inspires and calms while encouraging you to explore more about how people are utilizing technology to do amazing things.

Web 2.0 Applications: Websites that allow you to create or share something as opposed to just statically reading or looking at something.
Web Browser: The general term for the "brand" of software used to access the internet. As Internet Explorer is to Levi-Strauss Jeans, Google Chrome and Firefox are to Wranglers and Lee Jeans.
Wiki: A web document that more than one person can access and change. Examples: Wetpaint or Wikispaces.
Backchannel: A very localized web chatroom set up for a specific purpose with a smaller audience.Examples: Chatzy or Todaysmeet.
Blog: An online journal to publish thoughts, share experiences, and pass along idea and information. Example: Blogger or Tumblr.
Social Bookmarking: A term for sharing websites with colleagues and friends through a program that is  online rather than on a computer. Examples: Diigo or Delicious.
Microblog: An online "phrase-based" journal that limits the amount of text posted. Example: Twitter.
Cloud Computing: A movement to access computer programs through the internet rather than on your individual computer's hard-drive.
Reader: Scott McLeod calls it a "listing station;" it is a tool to collect website and blog updates so that you can go to one place (your reader) to access all the new information posted. Examples: Google Reader or Netvibes.
Open Source: A movement to make the html code (running behind website programming) "open" so that anyone can look/adapt the code.
Mashup or Mashable: A universally applied term for combining and recombining information such as video, audio and pictures, through Web 2.0 applications.
Embed: The skill of taking a Web 2.0 product (such as a map or a picture) and placing it in another Web 2.0 product. As a magazine clippings are to a collage, Web 2.0 applications are to Web 2.0 applications.
Url: Just the website you see in the address bar at the top of your web browser.
Share Settings: The set of choices you have to choose how public a Web 2.0 document is. You may want to keep it private, or you may want people to access it only with permission, or you may want everyone to be able to look at it.
Tag: A one word descriptor to help categorize a website or web-based article so that you can find it later. Tags are usually used in social bookmarking sites.
Screencasts, podcasts, and videocasts: Casts are a recording of something that is uploaded to a website for access by others. If it's a screencast, it's a video of the actions on your screen (say if you want to teach someone to email). If it's a videocast, it's video of something. A podcast is usually a voice recording of a conversation or dialogue.

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