The Best of Web 2.0
The next generation of the web is here! With new kinds of desktop-like applications being released left and right, how will you know where to go and what to use? That’s why we’re here: To show you the best of Web 2.0 sites that you can get the most out of. No matter the task, video, audio, or photos, we have a site that works great for what you want to do and uses all the great features of Web 2.0 technology.
Flickr is one of, if not the best, site for sharing your photos online. With a nice, clean layout and easy-to-use tools, you can upload massive amounts of pictures and label them to your liking. Using tags, you can search for photos of specific content and label your photos with tags so they’re easy to find. But that’s not all. Great uploading tools allow batch uploading quickly, so you don’t have to worry about sorting through photos you hate. Flickr uses AJAX-technology extensively, so no page reloading occurs. This means you can add more tags to a photo or add a comment swiftly and without refreshing. Flickr also allows a contacts list to keep track of your buddies and friends. Flickr is free but has some limitations, such as the amount you can upload if you’re not a “pro” member. Membership is inexpensive at $24.95 a year, though, and is well worth it.
If Flickr is for photos, then Vimeo is its video counterpart. The site keeps a traditional, clean layout and is very simple. You can upload video to share with people and friends via a contacts list. One of the better features of Vimeo is that it makes most videos easily accessible. All videos are converted to Quicktime, making them easy to view and download, but if the old format is what you normally like to view, Vimeo keeps it around so you can use it. You can easily click one-button to post a video to social bookmarking site del.icio.us (see below), which is great for getting your content out there for all to see. Comments on videos are kept very clean and neat and the best part is that it’s free!
Del.icio.us is the “original” social bookmarking site that had lots of success in its clever domain name. Bought by Yahoo! in 2005, little has changed that has made this site such a success. It allows you to keep track of all your favorite items on the web: Music, websites, favorite movies, and more. The layout is clean but a bit confusing at first, and takes a little while to get used to. The front page features great stories from all categories of the web, so Del.icio.us caters to pretty much everyone. Tags are a huge focus of the site; every post/bookmark features tags to make it more accessible. You can share your bookmarks with family and friends, which is a great way to show them what you’re interested in. Del.icio.us is free and fun for people looking to show off what they like.
Co-created by ex-TechTV star Kevin Rose, Digg is a news- and story-based site where users get to decide what gets shown. Stories are “dug,” which allows the most “dug” stories to be showcased on the homepage. The site mostly focuses on technology and the like, but also features odd and goofy rumors and interesting sites. You can get the latest dug stories with RSS and create an account to post your own stories to be dugged. Stories can also be tagged for easier searching; the site is launching some cool new features like DiggSpy, a tool that allows you to see what people are digging and writing before they even post anything. Lots of interaction goes on with commenting, so be sure to be talkative when engaging in Digg.
Newsreaders / RSS
Bloglines isn’t just for blogs you know. You can use it to add pretty much any RSS feed-in. Owned by AskJeeves, this site allows you to keep track of all your favorite blogs via RSS. You can then log in from any computer to check your news and blog entries on your favorite sites. Their goal is to keep you happy and give you lots of options. You can publish your own blog if you’d like to start writing more, and you can share your favorite blogs with friends so they know what you read, and vice versa. It’s a very good way to keep up to date with your blogs if you’re on the road or don’t like having a newsreader on your computer.
Netvibes is a start page that is AJAX to the max. Draggable windows you can edit are what you start with, and no account is required to start using it right away. You can have a price watcher, your Gmail account readily available, RSS from any site to keep updated with news, and many more features. My favorite is the Flickr slideshow with any tag you give it. No refreshing at all, thanks to the AJAX technology being fully utilized. A to-do list and Google search are also readily available at your fingertips. Netvibes is the best start page for those getting into the Web 2.0 movement; nothing out there beats it.
Collaboration / Word Processing
Have you ever wanted a web-based word processor where multiple people can login and share ideas? Writeboard does that and a whole lot more. You can start a board very quickly and easily and invite your co-writers to join in and help brainstorm with you. RSS updates are available for your board so you know when changes have been made, a very nice feature. Another great feature is the ability to have multiple versions of a document so you can roll back if needed. You can export your board into a text file or e-mail, too, for quick access and sharing.
Google Maps (maps.google.com)
The search giant takes the cake here with their insanely cool map software. All AJAX-based, Google Maps allows you to view the layout of any city or place in the world. You can view a satellite photo of the area and zoom in, or just see which roads and streets are where. Directions are now easier to read and find because the software works so well. The Google Maps’ API allows web developers endless creativity with their mapping software. Used with Google Local (see below), it’s an unstoppable tool you’ll always come back to.
Google Local (www.google.com/local)
Enter your address and a keyword and that’s all. You’re done. Google will do the rest. If you’re looking for Mexican food in the area, just use Google Local. A list will go down the left hand side of the page, while a Google Map on the right hand side shows markers of restaurants near you. It’s great for finding places you never knew existed in your area. Google Local is an excellent way to find restaurants and places to go that are close to you or in an area you’ve never been to.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to have a great idea; Meebo is an awesome example. Meebo is an AJAX-based chat client with which you can use AIM, Google Talk, Jabber, ICQ, and more. A great aqua-like interface and the ability to do all of this without technology such as Java is a real asset when on the go. No refreshing occurs while dragging around IM windows or viewing your friend’s information. The chat works great, too, and is perfect for people who are not allowed to install chat clients on work computers. You can even set messages away and leave your browser window open. It’s a very valuable tool that won’t leave any breadcrumbs, letting people know you were chatting it up.
By: Vince Veneziani
February 23rd, 2006