Web 2.0 In The News: Social-Network Sites Are Leading a New Tech Boom, Reports Newsweek

In the upcoming edition of Newsweek, dated April 3, the cover story features fledgling companies MySpace.com and Flickr and describes them as "leading a charge of innovators making hay out of the Internet's ability to empower citizens and enrich those who help with the empowerment." The story examines how user-generated Web sites are rocking the Internet and leading the next tech boom.

MySpace is the prime hangout of 65 million (mostly young) people and thousands of rock bands, movie stars and marketers begging for their attention, say the authors Steven Levy and Brad Stone. They go on to explain, in their article titled "Putting The 'We' in Web," how Flickr built a 2.5 million-member community solely around a passion for sharing photos.

Levy and Stone contend that Web 2.0 is a "misleading" term since, as they write, "some supposedly Web 1.0 companies like eBay and Google have been clueful about this all along."

A more fitting description, they argue, comes from Mary Hodder, the CEO of a social-video- sharing start-up called Dabble:

"This is the live web."

Levy and Stone then look at the "Living Web" and where it will go from here:

MySpace has spawned a growing list of imitators. Fastest rising is Facebook, created by Harvard sophomore (now dropout) Mark Zuckerberg, who began the site as a casual way to help his Harvard classmates keep in touch. Now Facebook has 7 million users at 2,000 schools blogging to each other, connecting friends and posting pictures of last night's party. Zuckerberg, 21, hopes that MySpace kids will graduate to his site.

Other companies plan to circle around MySpace like pilot fish. "Our goal is to build instant messaging for power users of other social media," says Dalton Caldwell, the 27-year-old cofounder of iMeem.

Even headier competition lies ahead. Google CEO Eric Schmidt says that he doesn't understand why people think his company wants to be the next Microsoft. "Everybody thinks we're building operating systems, PCs and browsers. They clearly don't get it," he says. So where does Google want to go? "Look at MySpace," he says cryptically. "Very interesting."

Flickr was a good business, too, as many users chose to pay the $25-a-year fee for unlimited photo storage and relief from advertising on the site. But that's not why Yahoo bought it for an estimated $35 million. "With less than 10 people on the payroll, they had millions of users generating content, millions of users organizing that content for them, tens of thousands of users distributing that across the Internet, and thousands of people not on the payroll actually building the thing," says Yahoo exec Bradley Horowitz. "That's a neat trick. If we could do that same thing with Yahoo, and take our half-billion user base and achieve the same kind of effect, we knew we were on to something."

The article reports that, less than a decade ago, when we were first getting used to the idea of an Internet, people described the act of going online as venturing into some foreign realm called cyberspace. But that metaphor, its authors suggest, no longer applies. MySpace, Flickr and all the other newcomers aren't places to go, but things to do, ways to express yourself, means to connect with others and extend your own horizons.

"Cyberspace was somewhere else," they write. "The Web is where we live."

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Aiden Reynolds
Aiden Reynolds
Aiden Reynolds is a content editor at WEB 2.0 JOURNAL. He was born and raised in New York, and has been interested in computer and technology since he was a child. He is also a hobbyist of artificial intelligence. Reynolds is known for his hard work ethic. He often puts in long hours at the office, and is always looking for new ways to improve his writing and reviewing skills. Despite his busy schedule, he still makes time for his interests, such as playing video games. In his free time, Reynolds enjoys spending time with his wife and two young children. He is also an active member of the community, and frequently volunteers his time to help out with local events.