World Web leaders, innovators share Internet insight

I had the opportunity to attend part of the International World Wide Web Conference at the Raleigh Convention Center last week, which united Internet and technology innovators from all over the world. The conference had dozens of sessions focusing on specific areas of the Web and how it will affect different industries and people around the globe.

Tim Berners-Lee, the man credited with inventing the Web, was in attendance, but unfortunately I did not get to hear him speak. Some of the sessions I was able to attend included digitizing government documents and the future of print publishing.

Another separate part of the conference was the Social Media Futures’ Academy, which was put on by my Elon University interactive media graduate program, Google and Red Hat, a company that provides open source technology. The one-day youth conference was designed to discuss social media issues facing high school students. Many of us have begun using social media tools in our daily lives, but in many cases these tools have taken over the lives of teens.

Born into the digital age, today’s teens read more tweets and Facebook status updates than pages in a book. Kids are basically living their lives through social media instead of on the playground. I’m not saying this is a bad thing, but it certainly raises issues that are perhaps unfamiliar to the traditional teacher. The Social Media Futures’ Academy attempted to address those matters with discussions led by experts.

The session talked about the pros, cons and the future of social media. Students were encouraged to ask questions and share personal experiences. The presenters emphasized that students need to be cautious when posting because what someone posts is public.  If students do not carefully protect their online reputation then it can impact their college admissions process and job search down the road.

Eight schools attended the session, most from Durham and Wake counties. I thought that my interactive media classmates who organized the session did a terrific job and the entire event was a success.

Another session at the conference, the future of print publishing, mostly discussed books and reading habits. As Apple’s iPad, which surpassed iPhone sales in its first year, and Amazon’s Kindle become more popular, are people still buying traditional books? Bob Young of LuLu.com, a company that lets people self-publish and sell books and e-books, shared his insight on the future of publishing, discussing his efforts to connect authors with their readers.

Young compared “dead tree readers to iPad readers,” but emphasized the importance of the author in both categories. He centered on social standing and education being the main reason we read books and that that would never change. The difference now is that company’s like LuLu are trying to tie social media with books so that you can review a book and automatically your friends will see what you have read and what you thought about that book. It would add a new chapter into the book club concept.

One troublesome thought for the future of publishing would be integrated advertising. Imagine reading an electronic book and every 10 pages or every chapter a new advertisement would pop up. I think that would be really annoying, but it might happen some day..

Those are just a few highlights from a very interesting conference and an always-innovative field. It seems like every day I read a new article about a new gadget or new concept changing old media and it fascinates me. It is only every 50 or 60 years that we get to be a part of a brand new medium and right now we’re living through just that.

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