Lost in social space: Information retrieval issues in Web 1.5

Jon Dron, Terry Anderson


This paper is concerned with the application of Web 2.0 technologies within a conventional institutional learning setting. After considering the affordances of Web 2.0 technologies vs Web 1.0 technologies and a framework for viewing social software in terms of groups, networks and collectives, we describe an instance of trying to use Elgg, a rich social application, to support a distance-taught course within a conventional face-to-face university. A number of issues are identified, some of which are related to Elgg’s interface but the biggest of which relate to the tensions between top-down and bottom-up control and the shifting contexts of personal, group, network and collective modes of engagement. These problems suggest that, in their current form, social technologies pose intractable difficulties in information organisation and retrieval when used for formal learning. We propose a range of solutions that make use of the wisdom of the crowd combined with human intervention. This paper addresses and extends themes explored in SIRTEL 07.

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