It's no secret that the internet has evolved magnificently since the advent if the 21st century. Post the seemingly devastating crash of the late 90s, it was a general consensus that the internet was done for. Unfortunately, the market has a habit of overreacting and assuming the worst from short-term failures. If one looks at the sites and services that ultimately failed, it was less a matter of implosion and more a matter of not having a proper market. The internet sprung up fast and everyone was so excited that an every minute idea was given a massive pay day by the public. Eventually, when everyone realized that not every idea with Dot Com attached at the end of it would make money, the boom crashed.
But, the technology finally evolved and with it a burgeoning market for internet commerce, mostly in advertising. It took a while, but when a larger percentage of world citizens gained broadband internet access and millions started logging in every day to check email, news and the newest ping pong ball video on YouTube, everything sorted itself out and the internet started to make real money.
Web 2.0 describes any technology that allows users to directly interact and change the content of a web page or service. This includes anything such as blogs, social networks, or digital forums such as YouTube or Flickr. These sites make vast sums of money for dozens of companies.
And eventually, that money making caught the eye of the major industry and cultural players in America and now things have developed to the point of doing things it never did before. These five innovations are not just interesting new technologies, but changes to the way we see our lives on a daily basis:
News and Politics
News and politics have recently undergone their fair share of massive changes, largely in part due to the fact that news media has been making that steady shift for the past few years. Since the New York Times made the online jump years ago, everyone else has slowly been moving resources to the internet. However, with Web 2.0, the internet became a central hub for the dissemination of news to the masses. Blogging changed how politicians interacted with their constituents and news is now presented in real time through a hundred different resources. Anyone with a computer, can now learn about the goings on of a half a world a way and watch their local senator's newest campaign message all in a few minutes.
The changes to the phone industry have been underway since VoIP first showed up a few years ago. This massive change to the landscape of telecommunications is a major change in the circuit board based industry. Digital phone calls are cheaper, easier and more customizable than traditional calls and with Web 2.0 technology more and more companies are hopping on board and offering services to enhance that experience. For example, VoIP users can now set up a switchboard from their computer to direct where calls are sent through services like Grand Central or send messaged directly through their friends' blogs or social network profiles with the click of a mouse and cheap microphone.
Entertainment has long since been the cutting edge of new technology, and while the major companies are actually starting to fall behind a little bit, the user-generated entertainment industry has exploded in recent years, creating mega-sites like YouTube. Videos of ping pong ball tricks and skateboarding dogs are not the only changes in the industry though. Musicians now create their own home videos and utilize the internet to spread their music virally.
Film companies create ad campaigns to spread their wares, and television is now easily accessible from network websites and video gathering pages. Entertainment, as well as gaming has become as easily accessible as ever and continues to grow as the studios and networks that held out until now realize that this is the future of their industries.
The most obvious change to the landscape thanks to Web 2.0 technologies is the growth of social networking and the interaction methods people use. With almost 200 million users on MySpace alone and millions more on Facebook, Orkut, Hi5, Xanga, and Twitter, there are millions of users around the world tapping into the growing technologies presented in socializing online. This includes everything from blogging about one's day to uploading personal profiles and comments or saving a dozen albums of photographs to the internet for friends and family to peruse.
Education is probably the last place anyone might expect to find growth considering the time-wasting image that the internet exudes. However, for those in school or in the teaching industry however, the usefulness of blogging, forum posting, and interactive websites is incredibly high. For a long time now, professors have been posting their syllabi and class notes on the internet and offering students a space to interact and discuss that class work.
Now though, as more classes are growing used to the fact that a majority of research is done on the internet and students interact online more than ever, classes are moving to digital workspaces and teachers are creating blogs on which comments are required as part of a daily grade. The freedom and constant interaction that the internet provides for teachers and students means that future educators will surely utilize it to its fullest extent.
The usefulness of something like Web 2.0 has made almost every industry rethink how they interact with the world. Businesses use blogs to keep their clients and employees updated rather than using memos; communications have changed to the point of being almost entirely digital, and eventually, even more aspects of daily interaction will change due to the ability to create and edit content dynamically from anywhere in the world. It's just a matter of the proper innovation and creativity to make it happen.