2007's top 10 events on the Internet

The Baltimore Sun

The year's most significant event in blogging, or perhaps on the Internet in general, was arguably the blogs that focused the world on the massacre in Myanmar.

The depictions and descriptions of Burmese troops killing monks to quell pro-democracy rallies didn't generate the Web traffic of, say, the mascara-eyed boy crying crocodile tears for Britney Spears or the spicy "Obama Girl" video. But they offered a glimpse into a future where totalitarian regimes will be confronted by the power of people to transmit words, and more importantly images, to broadcast their plight around the globe. Just as Sept. 11 was altered profoundly by the rise of the cell phone - if calls hadn't gone through to United Flight 93, perhaps we'd be rebuilding the U.S. Capitol - blogs will someday thwart a brutal regime.

Here are the rest of my 10:

2. WILDFIRES --The ability of government and news organizations, victims and eyewitnesses to transmit news instantly about the Southern California fires showed the breadth of new media even when events are scattered across hundreds of miles and are changing with the wind.

3. HOKIE NATION --In a way perhaps not seen in the U.S. since Sept. 11, the Internet provided a medium for people to learn the whereabouts of loved ones and acquaintances on the day of the Virginia Tech shootings.

4. POLITICS --Blogs are gaining influence - or at least the candidates are reacting to the inside-baseball discussions on them about their campaigns. YouTube co-hosted two debates. The first one for Democrats was inauspiciously remembered for a talking snowman, while the second one for Republicans became the most-watched in cable history. The most-talked-about political videos this year were just plain humorous: the masterful remake of the 1984 Apple Computer ad that inserted Hillary Clinton as the feared Orwellian symbol and Senator Clinton's own quick and clever remake of the Sopranos finale. Political blogs like the Daily Kos, Michelle Malkin and the Huffington Post are adding a new wing to the Fourth Estate.

5. HARRY AND THE DEATHLY SECRET --The most anticipated moment of the year may have been midnight July 21, when J.K. Rowling released the final book in her phenomenally popular Harry Potter series. Keeping the fate of the beloved boy wizard under wraps until days before the release - yes, The Sun got an early copy and was a leaker - was a magical feat in itself, since pop-culture information of great desirability rarely eludes the Web's maw.

6.SECOND LIFE --I'm not talking about the bizarre 3-D video alter-egos that millions have set up for themselves, but the extraordinary power of the replay in the digital age. Teen beauty contestants have offered rambling, indecipherable answers to questions for many years - heck, even presidents and CEOs do - but Miss South Carolina Teen USA was forced to have hers replayed 19 million times.

7. WHOLE FOODS, WHOLE TRUTH --The scandal at Whole Foods Market over its founder blogging under a false name, potentially influencing the grocer's stock, was a reminder to be cautious about what you read online. "Doveryai, no proveryai," as Ronald Reagan would often chide Russian leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev: "Trust, but verify."

8. COOL APPLE --On the other hand, fake blogs written about CEOs can be very entertaining. The one written by Forbes magazine editor Daniel Lyons (his identity was long a secret until last summer), entitled "The Secret Diary of Steve Jobs," had a cult following in Silicon Valley and beyond and was compiled into a book. Love the blog tagline: "Dude, I invented the friggin iPhone. Have you heard of it?"

9. GOODBYE, PRIVACY --Two online business stories reflected the quandary that's often overlooked in the deserved fascination of the Internet: The diaries of our lives have moved from bedside dresser drawers to corporate computer servers. Last month, Facebook had to retreat from pushing a service called Beacon that let users know the Web sites others were surfing, presumably to interest people in buying what their "friends" were buying. And last week, U.S. regulators gave the go-ahead to Google Inc.'s planned $3.1-billion purchase of the online ad company DoubleClick Inc. Critics fear that too much information about individual Web surfing habits will reside with the giant Google, but the Federal Trade Commission said it could only rule on antitrust implications.

10. MASS VERSUS WEIGHT --A new blog is created every second, according to blog tracker Technorati, although growth of the "blogosphere" is slowing some: It took 180 days for blogs to go from 5 million to 10 million, and 320 days to double from 35 million to 70 million.


Andrew Ratner, a former technology reporter, is Today editor of The Sun.

Copyright © 2020, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad