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Will 2007 Bring Another YouTube Phenomenon?

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Will 2007 Bring Another YouTube Phenomenon?

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Will 2007 Bring Another YouTube Phenomenon?

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ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

If YouTube is the world's number one video sharing site, then what is YouTube's number one most popular video?

(Soundbite of song "Twist" by Chuck Berry)

SIEGEL: It's this six minute performance viewed more than 37 million times, aptly titled "The Evolution of Dance." A young man twists, discos and breaks through, well, the history of dance.

(Soundbite of music)

SIEGEL: The closest contender for the top spot, two college guys lip-synching along with the theme song for the children's show Pokemon. That's only been seen 18 million times in the year that it's been on YouTube.

MELISSA BLOCK, host:

Well, if 2006 was the year of YouTube, what will be the online star of 2007?

Hiawatha Bray writes about technology for the Boston Globe. And Hiawatha, what would you project the big Internet phenomenon of 2007 might be?

Mr. HIAWATHA BRAY (Boston Globe): I have no idea. There's no telling. There's no telling what is going to really capture people's imagination. All I can go by are the things that I've seen recently that have captured mine. The two that really immediately leap out are one that's a free online service that's sort of reminiscent of YouTube. The other one's a commercial service that solves a desperate problem that just hasn't been addressed properly in the computing world.

BLOCK: Let's talk about the free service first. What's that?

Mr. BRAY: Absolutely. The free service is called Wikimapia. It's what's known as a mash-up. That's one of those phenomena where you take an existing Internet service and then you combine it with other software to make something really new.

In this case what they've done is they've gone to Google Earth, the famous service that allows you to see satellite images of anywhere on the planet. They've combined that with their own Wiki software to create a service in which anybody in the world can now create a geographical guide to anyplace in the world.

If you have a particular spot on earth that means something to you, that's very important to you, that you are an expert on, you go to Wikimapia and you write all the information on it yourself and that becomes now, in effect, the sort of visual encyclopedia of that spot on earth. It's a brilliant idea.

BLOCK: Okay, so that's Wikimapia. That's the free service you were talking about.

Mr. BRAY: It's a free service.

BLOCK: And you mentioned something that would cost a little money. What's that?

Mr. BRAY: The one that costs money solves the ultimate computer problem - data backup. How do you keep from losing all your information in an age where almost all of us keep all our information on our hard drives? There's a company in Boston that has finally found a good solution to it called Carbonite. You pay them $50 a year. You plug into a broadband Internet connection. That's it. They just collect it all. If your computer ever breaks down - you can be anywhere in the world - get a new computer, set it up, plug in Carbonite and get all your data back. It's so simple, anybody can use it.

And the reason I think this is important is because this is the first company to do it right. And before this year is out, I predict that a major Internet company somewhere in America is either going to buy them or going to launch a similar service and this is going to become an industry standard that people are just going to take for granted worldwide.

BLOCK: Hiawatha Bray, good to talk to you. Thanks so much.

Mr. BRAY: Thank you.

BLOCK: That's Hiawatha Bray of the Boston Globe with some thoughts on what might be big on the Web in 2007.

For other ideas, we're joined now by Erin Ali. She's an avid videogame player in Tempe, Arizona. She wants to design games and is studying game development at the University of Advancing Technology.

Erin, thanks for being with us.

Ms. ERIN ALI (University of Advancing Technology): Thank you.

BLOCK: And what are you thinking is going to be the big Web buzz in 2007?

Ms. ALI: Two large ones that I see coming up. One is Digg.com and one is Pandora.com.

BLOCK: And what are they?

Ms. ALI: Digg.com is a social content Web site driven by the community. Say you find something on Yahoo! News or any type of news element or any blog and you decide that it's something that should be featured on Digg.com, what you do is you go on the site. You input all the information and what happens is on Digg.com, they show those headlines. And as more people view those headlines, they can either dig it, which means they promote it more, or they can opt to bury it. And so what it is is the community pretty much chooses what headlines they want to know more about and decides on what news they really are interested in.

BLOCK: You also mentioned something I think called Pandora.com, which sounds intriguing. What's that?

Ms. ALI: Pandora.com is one of my favorite sites for the past three weeks.

BLOCK: For the past three weeks?

Ms. ALI: Yes. And it's just because I actually just learned about it. I've always gotten in those funks of not being able to handle listening to any type of music because I've just been listening to the same thing over and over. And what Pandora.com is, is it's a music discovery service. It's an Internet radio service where you go online, you can create up to 100 radio stations and you pick what music you like.

Say you like the Goo-Goo Dolls or any other type of music, and you type that band in. What they do on Pandora.com is they go through the Music Genome Project. And they find other bands that pertain to that group of names that you've already chosen throughout the list, and they create those stations for you. And you can listen to all of this for free. You can check everything out because there's advertising.

And you don't have to go to the store and buy a CD that you might not like, and you might discover it's something you really like. So that's why I really enjoy Pandora.

BLOCK: Erin Ali, thanks very much.

Ms. ALI: All right. Thank you.

BLOCK: Erin Ali is 20 years old. She blogs on the 1up.com network and studies game development in Tempe, Arizona.

Finally, to Los Angeles and to Danah Boyd for her thoughts on the next big Internet thing for 2007. She's a Ph.D. candidate studying how people represent themselves on the net. And Danah, what do you think? What's big in 2007?

Ms. DANAH BOYD (University of California Berkeley): Honestly, I don't think that we know. I mean, many of these technologies that you saw on MySpace, YouTube, Flickr, some of these, the things that really came to fruition in 2006 were built for a year or two before that. Now, there aren't really the obvious leaders contenders coming up. It's more general trends, and the fact that, you know, you're the myriad of different social technologies that are trying to get in, and frankly, trying to make some money.

And that what you're seeing is they've trained a lot of these big technology sites like YouTube have trained users that they can actually do this, and so you're seeing users actually splinter across hundreds of different sites rather than locating on one particular site.

And so they're going based on where their friends are. So rather than, all, you know, say, 14 through 24-year-old Americans going to MySpace, you're seeing them going to 20 to 30 different social network sites, and I don't think that that trend is going to stop in the next year.

BLOCK: Now Danah, you consult with companies on trends in social media. What are some of the trends that you're seeing and how might they be shifting?

Ms. BOYD: So some of the obvious trends arewhat is often talked about as user-generated content, which is the collection of or the presentation of all of this, you know, media - so video, music, everything that people can go and create their own thing and put it up.

You know, you see the new technologies out there, the fact that your phones have cameras on them, the phones have videos on them, a lot of them allow pretty much anybody to go and put things together and express themselves. The others, in that you're trying to see, is just people have this desire not to talk to just anyone, or even to talk to people that thereof a particular interest what they do, but talk to talk to their friends. So they're actually going in or taking their offline friends and they're bringing them online trough the different social network technologies so that they can go on and share it just with their friends.

So while there's some people who'd desperately want, you know, the attention of, you know, 50 million people, most people are going and seeking the attention of about six. So a lot of the tensions of, you know, this round of user generated content is who is that audience. Is the audience just your peer group or your close family? Or is the audience meant to be all public across all space and all time?

BLOCK: Danah Boyd, thanks for sharing your thoughts.

Ms. BOYD: No problem. Thank you.

BLOCK: Danah Boyd is a Ph.D. candidate at UC Berkeley. She studies social networking on the Internet.

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