The Web 2.0 phenomena in a sentence: lower communication costs have led to opportunities for more inclusive, collaborative, democratic online participation. As the costs of communicating online decreased, more people, in terms of million, decided that it was worth their while to participate in these communication networks. These people did not just communicate more, they started communicating in qualitatively different ways than before. As these millions found new media for expression and collaboration, they opened possibilities for a more inclusive, open, democratic society, possibilities which may or may not be realized. There is no doubt that this democratization, these contributions from many millions of web participants, has produced a series of profound social, political and economic changes that this paper will seek to document. The changes inspired by the democratization of the web, however, will not of necessity lead to a more equitable distribution of power and resources in our society. The future of the web will depend upon the degree to which this blossoming of online participation will allow ordinary citizens and consumers to have greater voice and influence in shaping society and the degree to which powerful political and commercial interests can co-opt and constrain the surge of online enthusiasm in the support of the established hierarchy.
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