There’s no doubt about it, Web 2.0 has dramatically changed the way all of us interact in our daily lives, whether on the net or off. So what sort of things have we seen in the past year that have really made a massive difference online? Well, Web 2.0 has come out in the masses, flinging open new doors and allowing for mass communities to connect.
The likes of MySpace, Bebo, Friendster, Facebook, MyBlogLog, LinkedIn and several other major networking websites have taken the world by storm. There’s no doubt that social networking is very popular, particularly amongst younger people. According to Alexa, MySpace is the world’s 5th most visited website. The thing is, social networking shows no sign of stopping, as within the last three months, MySpace has seen a 9% rise in visitors, that shows no sign of stopping.
But why has it all been so succesful? Well, here, I believe we’re going back to one of the so-called ‘principles’ of Web 2.0. Community, something that social networking relies on. The heart of ’social’, is community.
Many major social networking websites have popped up, but there was no place for people to collectively share their favourite links and articles with the world. This is where social bookmarking came in. Digg, Del.icio.us and Reddit are just a handful of the most popular bookmarking options open to people, made popular thanks to their ease of use. Many other startups have launched, aiming to mimic these bigger, more popular websites, all with no avail. Of course, how could I forget Slashdot? Slashdot is slightly different to the others. It’s a moderated system, that only shows the funnest, wackiest, weirdest, geeky, or most interesting technology related news to the masses. These cookmarking websites receive millions of hits each month, and many phrases have been coined to describe the effect that websites feel after being hit with the ‘Digg effect’ (Where a story is promoted to a front page, gets so many hits and crashes a server!) and the ‘Slashdot effect’, in which a story is published, and due to the sheer number of visitors it receives, the server collapses under the enormous strain of serving up a page to hundreds of thousands of people simultaneously.
Netvibes, Pageflakes and Goowy are perhaps the most innovative and popular start pages of the bunch. I personally don’t use a start page, but that’s my own preference. I know that world-wide, they’ve been massively popular, with streaming of feeds & news, instant access to e-mails, search, local weather forecasts, links to social bookmarking sites and more. Ironically as I write this post, Pageflakes is down for maintenance, but they promise to be ‘back within a few hours’.
Within the past month, start pages have expanded dramatically, pushing it ever further into the tangled net that is Web 2.0. Netvibes has become available in Greek, Turkish, Russian, Danish, Ukranian, Polish and Dutch. More new features have been popping up on all new start pages, and they’ve become so easy to use, that anyone can now use them, no specialized account needed.