What do we mean when we say "remixing the web for social change"?

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Sean Coons at connecting*the*dots writes about the ways that social tools, most particularly tagging, intersects with social change. Here's a long quote:

The complete disregard of the intelligence and voice of the American citizen begins to explain the groundswell of blogging that has occurred over the past four years, specifically the political blogs and mainstream media watchdog sites. Across any time period in human history, technological advances go hand-in-hand with human motivation. While most of the time the potential for capital gains plays a large role in the motivation to advance technology, moral conviction has the ability to drive both the evolution of technology and the passion to leverage it to it's fullest degree. So what's the connection between geo-political events and blogging and the tactical fervor of Web 2.0? (social bookmarking, tagging, open source, open content, etc.) In a nutshell: everything.

Without a true social Democracy in the real, we've evolved to create one on-line -- where boundaries can be broken down, hierarchies can be dissolved, control can be minimized, etc. I blog in order to get my voice out into the ether of this new social construct; I tag my blog posts to provide context and semantic relationships on numerous levels, but with a similar purpose:

  1. On the base object level to provide a succinct description of how I perceive this content from a conceptual perspective, perhaps creating a) a greater connection with the reader on a discernible level and b) connections on an associative/relational level with other objects (within my domain and elsewhere) 
  2. On the categorization level to establish context within a particularly defined category or across a faceted classification scheme. If I were an actual brand, this would be how I'd ensure the brand position was reflected within my editorial construct and navigation scheme.
  3. On the retrievable object level to allow for more avenues of findability (four, well-thought descriptive tags will exponentially increase the odds of object retrieval rather than none or even one, either in straight queries or in contextual presentation on the base object level)

These are tactical strategies in the battle of the information age. These same principles apply to tagging even more granular object such as photographs, video and sound files, as well as the macro-level social bookmarking of URLs. The effort, I believe, is based on the desire of individual voices to be heard amidst the shelling of the mainstream media. While technically speaking, Web 2.0 is about the creation of richly defined object models and attributes -- the more "good" data we entrench within our objects (be it content, files or URLs themselves), the better the chance for a semantic web experience -- the movement behind it is much more compelling, much more philosophical in nature.

That's it, I think.  Pretty much exactly.  Maybe I'm just buying into the hype but I think that these tools -- blogs, wikis, tagging -- start to put more and more power into the hands of engaged, non-technical users.  We go from reading on the web (courtesy of the browser) to writing and collaborating on the web (blogs and wikis) to actually organizing the web (tagging).   

The connection takes work (of course) and, frankly, it's not going to work in every instance.  But it sure feels like it's time to try.

(via FactoryCity