YOUTUBE AND MYSPACE (bought by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp for $580m in 2005, and after the YouTube deal probably worth at least three times that) are leaders of what’s been dubbed Web 2.0. Web 2.0 is a collective term for services available on the Web that allow people to collaborate and share information, forming vast online communities. YouTubers watch more than 100m clips a day while social networking site MySpace can count 60m users. Web 2.0 is interactive, feature rich and importantly usergenerated compared to the “old” Web, which was static and mainly centred on searching and surfing from one site to the other.
While at its most basic YouTube allows people to up- and download their own videos, it forms an influential online community (with its own celebrities such as Lonelygirl15 and Geriatric1927) that has seen the company sign content distribution and marketing deals with Universal Music, Sony, Fox, television network CBS and the National Basketball Association. Other media owners are threatening to sue and are forcing YouTube to remove copyrighted material, but the agreement signed between the BBC and YouTube last week probably points to the future. The British broadcaster first had YouTube take down the thousands of clips from its popular Top Gear programme, before signing a deal for three channels to be hosted on YouTube.
Apart from YouTube pretenders like Metacafé, Web 2.0 also encompasses wikis (Wikipedia is an online encyclopaedia updated by users), blogs (online journals – one is created every 10 seconds), photo sharing sites such as Flickr and Photobucket, social networking sites led by MySpace and hundreds of others, including Facebook (aimed at students), Orkut (operated by Google), Hi5, del.ico.us (where users can chat and share their favourite bookmarks) and LinkedIn, a networking site for business professionals..