Top 10 Web Wonders of the Decade #3

7 01 2010

twitter-inq1-facebook-phoneIt was the social media sensation of 2009 making the cover of Time Magazine and it makes number three in our list of the most important web phenomena of the last decade.

Number 3: Twitter

The success of Twitter  in under four years is astounding.  Last March Nielsen ranked Twitter as the fastest growing social network with a monthly growth of 1,382 percent.

Alongside the startling growth it has changed the rules in so many areas. It has altered the way we consume news – stories can be tracked instantly and direct from the source; we have seen this starkly with post election protests in Iran and the terrorist attacks in Mumbai.

Twitter changes the rules for ‘search’ by delivering a  human component.  Google has recognized this and in the last few weeks added live twitter results to its front page returns for a multitude of queries.

Twitter can be a social network but the potential reach is well beyond the real world proxies for friends and colleagues offered by Facebook and LinkedIn.  One of its many functions is that of an ‘introduction engine’ opening the way to bulding new contacts and relationships.

The real beauty of Twitter is that is isn’t a web site, many people prefer to use twitter clients like Tweetdeck, Seesmic or Hootsuite, its a new medium like SMS was or before that the phone.  We can use it in a host of different ways.  Some say that it is a flash in the pan like Seconds Life or Bebo. I think that is unlikely – it’s a bit like saying “the telephone? That’ll never catch on.”

Top 10 Web Wonders of the Decade #4

6 01 2010

As we hurtle towards the top spot on the list of web wonders of the decade the contenders have all been genuine game changers for the way that we work, rest and play.

Number 4: Spotify

Just now and then a piece of technology brings with it a genuine bacon sandwich dropping moment, an experience that messes with the laws of nature.  I remember one such revelation the first time I paused live TV (with TiVo).   Spotify provided another.  I was able to call up music that I didn’t own, for free, add it to a playlist (of other tunes that I hadn’t bought)  in a player that looked and felt great to use. What’s more I could listen to it whenever I wanted.  Legally.  The highs just got higher when the premium phone version was launched a few months ago.

For those still uninitiated, and the service has only been around for a year, Spotify is a music streaming service that allows immediate access to instant listening to tracks or albums that you call up.  Music can be browsed by artist, album or record label.  It is currently only available in a handful of European countries but for users it changes the way the listen to (and pay for music).  If you want to own the track you can still buy it directly from the player.

As well as being a peer-to-peer based streaming service users can also share playlists with other users.  If you fancy it check the playlist for this blog via the link in the top menu bar.

Top 10 Web Wonders of the Decade #5

5 01 2010

Number 5: YouTube

It is testament to the sheer scale of web innovation in the last ten years that YouTube only just makes the top five. 

It feels like the video sharing site has been around for ever but it is still a few weeks short of its fifth birthday (although it didn’t officially launch until November 2005).   Its potential however was almost immediately obvious and twelve months later it was snapped up by Google for $1.65 billion.   

A lot of the numbers associated with YouTube are astounding.  In October this year co-founder of the site Chad Hurley announced that YouTube was getting “well over a billion views a day” worldwide.   The Susan Boyle X-Factor video alone received over 120 million hits in 2009.

YouTube is also the 2nd largest search engine in the United States (after its owner Google).  In  October there were a total of more than 3.7 Billion search queries on YouTube as measured by comScore compared with Yahoo which has a billion fewer queries per month.

It is likely that the biggest impact is yet to come.  Hunter Walk  the Director of Product Management at the sites believes the new frontier is the battle for TV dominance “Our average user spends 15 minutes a day on the site, they spend about five hours in front of the television.”  YouTube is already a major broadcast channel for short clips but with leaps forward in video quality and a series of content deals it is sey to become a major player in the delivery of long form content – or what you and I call films and television.

Top 10 Web Wonders of the Decade #6

4 01 2010

Number 6: Wikipedia

Launched in 2001 Wikipedia only just makes the list of web wonders of the ‘Noughties’.  It will celebrate its ninth birthday in just eleven days time.  However in a period spanning less than a decade Wikipedia has fundamentally transformed how we access (and share) knowledge.  

Before this crowd sourced encyclopaedia became available, the gold standard for a comprehensive compendium of human knowledge was the Encyclopaedia Britannica.  It was first published over two hundred years ago and is currently in its fifteenth edition.  That works out as a new edition just about every thirteen years on average.  Wikipedia on the other hand is in state on constant revision.

The user-generated encyclopaedia has become in the words of co-founder Jimmy Wales “part of the infrastructure of the internet” and it is the world’s fifth most popular website.  There are over 3 million entries in English alone, just one (albeit the largest) of the 272 language versions.  

Wikipedia is Web 2.0 to the core.  All of its article are written collaboratively by volunteers around the world and almost can be edited by anyone so long as they have registered to have access to the site.  It has redefined how we collaborate and how we share knowledge.  It is also the only top ten web site that is run as a non-profit organisation.  The model is however under pressure. Giving all users irrespective of credentials or expertise equal rights to publish and edit may not be an optimum way of sharing knowledge.  However to subject changes proposed by newcomers to approval by more experienced editors (an innovation already adopted in the German version) may strike at the core principles of the project.  The debate goes on.

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