The last issue of First Monday is dedicated to criticizing various aspects of the “Web 2.0” idea. Michael Zimmer provides a great introduction where he presents the pieces and drafts logical links among them. While I really appreciate the analytical strength of arguments developed by the contributors, I would be really glad to see some empirical testing of these ideas. I am not talking specifically about the First Monday, which may not be the venue, or the specific issue and its contributors (I read only a few articles from that issue), but I am talking more general about critical research.
The lack of empirical evidence is often used for attacking the critical thinking as demagogic or even simply dismissing it as having little hold in reality. While it is very difficult to produce high quality empirical research, and sometimes it is even contradictory to the origins of the critical thought itself, I think it is essential for making the critical perspective more prominent in the public discourse.
It seems to me that marginalization of critical perspectives to scholarly discourse only is not doing good nether to the ideas presented in it, nor to the industry that is carrying the changes in the media. Even though it it is understandable why industry spokespeople would be inherently enthusiastic about technology, careful assessment of socio-economic environment can help making better decisions. For example, I expect that the currently evolving recession might expose another technocratic-discourse driven bubble, as we already experienced back at the end of the 1990’s. However I do believe that paying attention to the critical analysis, could prevent repetition of at least some of the mistakes of the past.