The Internet has utterly changed in the last couple of years, as the primary emphasis moves from storing and sharing information to connecting people.
Older uses of the Internet such as Gopher, Usenet newsgroups and IRC are hiding away in dusty corners; email is becoming less useful by the day as spammers drown out legitimate messages and spam prevention techniques interfere with personal and business communications.
Newer tools and techniques are on the rise. Driving their growth is people’s desire to connect with friends, family and strangers. What’s more the power of each individual tool is often enhanced by combining it with other tools, knitting together a strong fabric of connections and community.
Many modern services incorporate features that allow you to rank items, add comments, add items to your favourites, share items with friends via email or blogs, add items to your (shared) bookmarking system, or place items within a context of geographical or social networks.
YouTube videos are a good example: watch a video online and then add it to your list of favorites and your playlists, add a comment, click a link to share the video with others via email, Digg, del.icio.us, Furl, reddit or StumbleUpon, or by embedding it on your own web page (such as a blog). Use Google Maps to find YouTube videos from specific locations.
It’s all about connecting people in ways that go far beyond the original web concept of linking one file to another. Note: all these services tend to reflect the real world, in that some content is entertaining, high quality and family friendly, while other content is unpleasant, explicit or just trivial.
You should spend some time to explore some of these tools:
On YouTube start with this 2 minute video from Amnesty International: Signatures — Winner of the Gold Lion at the Cannes Lions 2007. Your signature is more powerful than you think. [Link updated 11 January 2008.]
Written for and reproduced from CommunityNet Aotearoa Panui, August 2007. This article may have been modified from the original.