Monday, 1 January 2007

Mousetrap - 85

2006: The year of the social web. Be warned, this is a personal list. Your mileage may differ.

The contenders

Flickr’s been around a while, and its basic level, it’s a pretty cool photo-sharing site where you can put your pictures up, and give permission to various groups that you define to see them. It also permits embedding on other sites. But the big deal was being able to tag your shots, which made the site easily searchable, letting you discover other takes on the subject, the place, the event, whatever. Its rise was made possible with the ubiquity of cheap digital cameras, cellphone cameras and the like, and, of course, broadband and the web2.0 buzz. One groans at the memory of scanning each print, resizing and optimising and uploading one by one, back in the day.
Not as obvious a choice, I know, but it’s certainly made my life a lot easier. Since I travel often, and also use more than one PC on a regular basis, keeping a list of the sites I line up to feature here as a bit of a chore, mailing myself links so I could access them elsewhere, and so on. I now use almost exclusively (take a look at The social aspect also rocks: friends and readers who also use the service can simply tag a site “for:zigzackly”and it appears on my list; and I can root around through other people’s tags to find buzzing topics and more stuff for you.

And the winner!

When this column featured YouTube way back in March, it was already white hot. It lets you upload, store, tag and share your videos, and view and comment on videos by other members. You can also embed video from YouTube on personal sites and blogs. Over the year, we’ve seen the site coopted by vital marketers, small film makers, bootleggers and the like to get their video out to the world, and its popularity levels zoom to insane levels. After Google acquired it for a billion and a half plus some change, it’s really no contest as to what the biggest online star of 2006 was. It’s a success story born of broadband access (can you imagine downloading that stuff on dialup?), yes, but it’s also a child of the social web, or web 2.0, as some like to call it, the web that people like you and me create with our content. Yay us!

Reader suggestions welcome, and will be acknowledged. Go to for past columns, and to comment, or mail The writer blogs at

Published in the Times of India, Mumbai edition, 1st January, 2007.

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