<%response.buffer=true%> <% yere = year(date()) Response.Expires = 0 %> Intro: Writing For The Web
< Understanding The Web >
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Web Phenomena

"Those who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, usually do." Unknown

The Information Age: Not since the printing press has an an invention changed the way we communicate like the internet.

Some propose that the change is so profound that we have actually entered another 'age' just as the 'stone age' and 'bronze age'. This new age has been called the Information Age.

A Level Playing Field: There is a saying, 'if you build a better mousetrap, the world will beat a path to your door'. Because of the the web, the world now is potentially always at your door!

The web allows individuals and small businesses to compete with large corporations on near-equal footing. Speculation of the possibilities of the web created hysteria not unlike the Alaskan 'gold rush' of the late 1800s, resulting in the rise and fall of the 'Dot Com Bubble'.

Infinite Reach: Now we can reach people whose geographical location limited access to people of like minds. People can now gather around an idea, and are supported in less popular ideas by being connected to the internet. The human need for community has evolved into web communities.

News Travels Fast: The web allows us to connect in an almost trivial way. Things can become popular because of the internet, literally overnight.

A term was created years ago to describe a unit of 'cultural' information, that seems to propopgate itself between people rapidly, like a fad, or dance craze. The term is meme.

The internet seems fond of oddities, and makes it's own celebrities: Internet Phenomena

Collaboration: A by-product of our connectivity is our new ability to collaborate easily with others. Millions of people have switched to online email, making it easier for providers to chart the demographic information of it's users.

Another invention, called a 'wiki' (Hawaiian, meaning short, or fast) allows millions of people to collaborate, and edit each other's work, creating online tools such as Wikipedia.

Blogs: Another collaborative tool is the blog, short for weblog. The blog emerged as it became easier to publish your thoughts on the web.

Blogs often focus on a particular subject, such as food, politics, or local news. Some blogs function as online diaries. A typical blog combines text, images, and links to other blogs, web pages, and other media related to its topic.

Blogs are wildy popular. The site Xanga, launched in 1996, had only 100 diaries by 1997, and over 50 Million by December 2005.

People flock to blogs to elicit, and respond to, opinions! Many of the most popular blogs are political, one such being DailyKos, which gets up to a million visits a day, during peak days.

Since 2003, blogs have gained increasing notice their role in breaking, shaping, and spinning news stories. The power of blogs came to light in relation to the incident that got Dan Rather fired: The Killian Documents

Sharing Is Not Always A Good Idea: File Sharing is the practice of making files available for other users to download. Software designed to facilitate file sharing, such as KaZaA make it easy, and dangerous, to share files.

At the time of this writing, (May 2006) Congress is currently working on new legislation that will make file sharing even more dangerous with a New Digital Copyright Bill.

Napster is an example of file sharing software that was able to make the jump to a legitimate business: File Sharing History

Web Entrepreneurs: The web allows new ways to connect, and also new ways for clever people to make money. The frenzy and contention that has permeated the web spills over into the world in unexpected ways. Witness the August 2005 phenomena invented by a UW grad student called Bum-vertising.

Social Networking: As another type of web community the web has long been a resource for websites that specialize in dating or matchmaking services.

MySpace originally started as a way for musicians to share sample of their music. Now MySpace has over 75 million accounts, and is very popular with teenagers: Why Youth Heart MySpace

IPod: The Apple corporation created a phenomenon by making it easy to download and access music on it's popular IPod media player.

The IPod, the most popular digital player, features a simple user interface designed around a central scroll wheel.

Podcasting is a method of distributing multimedia files, such as audio programs or music videos. The format of a podcast uses either the RSS or Atom syndication formats. Most news sites now feature links to enable users to automatically download new podcasts with available software: Juice

There are internet sites dedicated to categorizing and listing podcast souces, such as Podcast.net. To learn how to do your own podcasts,

The term podcast, like "radio", means both the content and the way it is delivered. The host or author of a podcast is often referred to as a "podcaster". Podcasting

Photos & Links: Flikr & del.icio.us are two examples of sharing. Flikr allows members to store and share images via a free account. The images can be public or private, and you can search for member's images topic, or selecting a tag, which is a keyword or label. Members browse images by tag, and make comments that become attached to the image.

del.icio.us also uses the concept of a 'tag', or keyword to describe categories, similar to Flikr. The difference is that del.icio.us allows you to store and share your 'favorite' links, and to view the categorized links of others. You can view the most popular links to see what's up!

Mashups: A mashup is a website or web application that combines content from more than one source into an integrated experience.

Content used in mashups is typically sourced from a third party via a public interface or API. Other methods of sourcing content for mashups include Web feeds (e.g. RSS or Atom) using AJAX and/or Web Services.

Mashups access API (Application Programmer Interfaces) from services like Google Maps, which allow the user to integrate images from a dynamic seamless map of the world, using JavaScript.

Developers can add their own overlays to the map (including markers and polylines) and display shadowed "info windows", just like the Google Maps application: Mashups

Mashups have been used for very odd purposes, for example Gawker Stalker, which combines the power of a blog, and Google Maps, in which the public tracks celebrity sightings in real time.

How Far Have We come?: As the web continues to grow and evolve, we suspect it will continue to pander to the best and and worst in human nature. The web will continue to reward those that are innovative, daring, bold, have a keen sense of human nature, or perhaps all of the above!

   
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