Web 2.0 vs. The Tradesman

April 9, 2011 at 6:24 pm (Web 2.0) (, , )

"On the internet, nobody knows you're a plumber"

Web 2.0 technology has been around for at least the last five years. Although not yet considered mainstream, Web 2.0 applications such as Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter have become accepted words in the social vernacular.

These applications typically lend themselves to informal collaboration across multiple social worlds (McLoughlin & Lee, 2008), seemingly replicating everyday human interactions.

But how does this apply to the offline tradesmen? Are the benefits touted by tertiary institutions applicable to graduate trade training?

A self-employed electrician may have little requirement for external collaboration in order to complete a task, however when the task requires the use of specialist tools or knowledge it can be certain that some collaboration takes place. In the modern world it is not just computers that are changing at a great rate; trade knowledge and skill sets are constantly evolving creating specialised subfields (Surowiecki, 2004) that make it harder for one ‘master’ to know everything.

Collaboration is key and Web 2.0 tools like blogging, YouTube, and Facebook (forums) allow people with similar interests to exchange ideas. These online communities of practice contain users who volunteer their time and knowledge to help others (Casarez, Cripe, & Sini, 2008), and in doing so create specifically tailored information for the individual. Contrast this with Web 1.0 (webpage’s) technology where generic, broad topic information is ‘pushed’ out to the user and the attraction of Web 2.0 technology is obvious.

Becoming involved in these technologies may not be a day-to-day necessity for the average tradesman but as a tool for their own development and the development of others, Web 2.0 may be the ultimate collaborative tool. Perhaps this form of information ‘philanthropy ‘ may become the new charity of the modern age …


Casarez, V., Cripe, B., & Sini, J. (2008). Reshaping Your Business with Web 2.0. New York, NY, USA: McGraw-Hill Professional Publishing.

McLoughlin, C., & Lee, M. J. W. (2008). The Three P’s of Pedagogy for the Networked Society: Personalization, Participation, and Productivity. International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, 20(1), 10 – 27.

Surowiecki, J. (2004). Wisdom of Crowds : Why the Many Are Smarter Than the Few and How Collective Wisdom Shapes Business, Economies, Societies and Nations. Westminster, MD, USA: Doubleday Publishing.



  1. kayhammond68 said,

    I had written out a comment and then clicked that I liked this post, and it ate my comment! Oh well, type it out again…

    I really like this blog. Beautiful writing, too! The point about the merge of the offline tradesman and Web 2.0 is interesting. The idea of information philanthropy is also thought provoking. What do you see as the factors that might lead to this merge? What is your experience? Do you see any potential conflict between the concept of information philanthropy and those who would caution that giving away professional knowledge for free is exploitation, or does it go beyond monetary value?

    Nice blog!

  2. odieone2 said,

    Thanks Kay for your comments – they have provoked a deeper exploration of topic

    Information philanthropy is an interesting topic especially when combined with the collaboration possible with Web2.0 apps. Not to say this type of ‘charity’ hasn’t occurred before, it is just easier to reach more people in a shorter period of time now than it has ever been. Where as before you had to ask your neighbour or search subject forums (almost Web 2.0 app) for answers to your questions, now days complicated questions can be answered with just one word, ‘google’!

    There will always be concerns about sharing corporate information, however this should be tempered with the reality of the informations lifespan. A perfect example is the IT industry where today’s product is on tomorrows rubbish heap. All the knowledge and R&D that went into those products could be open sourced as soon as they hit the shelves.

    The old adage ‘give a man a fish… vs….teach a man to fish’ still rings true but perhaps we are shifting away from f2f to more collaborative online methods.

    What is the next step? Should we include internet capable devices when providing aid to third-world countries…

  3. Hugh Wilson said,

    My field is civil engineering. While we have professional bodies dedicated to advancing engineering knowledge, we also tend to not circulate the really usefull information.

    The reasons for that is that it is a competitive industry. We sink or swim by how much knowledge, skill and experience we have and can demonstrate. Clients hire engineers based on their ability to do the job. For every engineer winning a contract , there are several who have lost.

    You mention sharing information with the third world. When I was a student I did a project on third world water supply technologies. I contacted the NZ authority on the subject and he provided some information that was already available. However he was reluctant to provide the more detailed information I was looking for. I was essentially asking for a piece of his livelihood.

    I suspect that while the internet has the capacity to allow information sharing, the reality is that only superficial information is circulated. It is basically a pragmatic approach to protect information people use to make them more attractive to potential Clients.

    I think the information that can be delivered by the web is constrained by human nature. In the competitive real world we are all protecting our own interests. This appears to be lost in some of the academic texts we are looking at.

    However the information that is provided is mostly sufficient for students. The main problem in the web information for students is that it is hard to distinguish what is real and what is promotional information. The distinction is not all that obvious in many sources.

  4. Mike O'Dwyer said,

    In reply, an audioboo about Information Philanthropy, is this the charity for the modern age?

  5. Thom Cochrane said,

    Try embedding the audioboo in your wordpress blog as a post – that way it doesn’t get lost/hidden in the comments. Don’t forget to link your wordpress blog to your twitter account as well (in the ‘settings’, ‘sharing’ options of your Dashboard), so your followers are notified of new blog posts and hopefully draw them in to comment.
    Audioboo embed code can be copied from your Audioboo page, e.g:


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