Social Web/Introduction


This class will be a tour of the Social Web. It will cover many topics, mostly just touching the surface. But there will be plenty of opportunity to dig deeper and learn more by doing.

Idea behind this ClassEdit

There are two reasons for this class:

  • learn about the social web, social media and social networks
  • find out about new ways of teaching and learning

For me the second aspect is actually the more important one. The first time I noticed that something is different with today's students, was when we had a problem in one of our labs, and some of the students used YouTube instead of Google to find the solution.


To see that not only I thought something is different, watch the following two videos:

  1. Pay Attention (
  2. A Vision of Students Today (

Actually, the website ’Digital Ethnography’ has quite a few interesting videos.

What does this mean for us?

Social Web is BigEdit

A very nice way to visualize the social web is the ’Social Media Prisma’ (based on The Conversation Prism):

image here

Social Media Prisma, (

Social Web changes quicklyEdit

Compare the popularity of the sites MySpace, studiVZ, Facebook, Google and Twitter over time, for example by using Google Trends. Especially when looking at MySpace and studiVZ you notice the short half-life of social web sites: image here myspace studivz facebook google twitter

The same is true for a class on the Social Web. As soon as I would have finished preparing the class, it would be outdated.

So instead, this class will be mostly based on student participation, interaction, living, researching and documenting the social web. We use the social web to learn about the social web.

Definition of TermsEdit


What do you think of, when you hear the word ’Social Web’?

Definition of TermsEdit

The Wikipedia defines it as

"The Social Web is a set of social relations that link people through the World Wide Web." [1]

It has to be distinguished from what is called the Web 2.0 [2], a phrase termed by Tim O’Reilly [3]. Whereas Web 2.0 is about technology, the social web is about people.

So for instance, the map of the internet, maps machines:

Whereas, a maps of friends on facebook (a social network) maps people:


Consider the following web sites. Which one is Web 2.0 and which one is Social Web?

Facebook, Google Maps, eBay, Amazon, Google Search, Flickr, Yahoo Mail, OpenStreetMap, Prezi, YouTube, iGoogle

On the Structure of this ClassEdit

In the beginning I will guide you, tell you the little I know, and point you to resources that will help you further. In case you have not been using much of the social web (maybe with the exception of Facebook), I will get you started.

You will start writing a personal learning journal (Blog), detailing your learning progress during the semester. You will comment on the blogs of other students. You will work in groups, research and write a chapter in a wikibook ( You will read and review books, and you will give a presentation.

You will become a responsible net citizens: not only consuming content, but also creating content. Don’t ask what the net can do for you, but ask what can you do for the net. What can you contribute to your country, society, culture, the net? The social web is about sharing.


Ex.1: Google TrendsEdit

Use Google Trends to see how the popularity of the keywords ’MySpace, studiVZ, Facebook, Google’ has changed over the years. Restrict your search to Germany.

Do the same for ’apple, microsoft, ibm’. How could this tool be useful to you or your company?

Ex.2: Web 2.0 vs Social WebEdit

List all the websites you have been using in the last 2 weeks. Try to determine which one’s are Web 2.0 type sites, and which one’s are Social Web sites. On which did you spend more time?

Read the Wikipedia articles on Web 2.0 [2] and on the Social Web [1].

Interesting may also be the talks by Randy Komisar, ’Beyond the Social Web’ ( only 3 minutes.

Ex.3: Rethinking EducationEdit

Watch the video Rethinking Education ( In your blog (next chapter) write what you think about this video.


  1. a b Social web,
  2. a b Web 2.0,
  3. Tim O’Reilly (2005-09-30). "What Is Web 2.0". O’Reilly Network

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