Only eight more days are left to the halfway point of “the aughts” decade. And what a year it’s been in the converging worlds of technology, media, business, and entertainment. There was a new videogame console from Microsoft, new iPods from Apple, great gains in online video, and the blogosphere finally came of age.
In 2005, big media decided to play along with the Internet, offering video clips online free of charge and putting entire television show episodes up for sale on Apple’s iTunes store. Meanwhile, ever-expanding Google launched a map service, a satellite imagery service, an all-encompassing database program, and other software engineering feats.
Another hot name: Apple. The crew from Cupertino continues to impress with its music players. In case you’ve been living in a self-imposed retreat, the video iPod and the nano both premiered this year, adding more revenue to the company’s coffers.
So, without further ado, let’s recap some of the biggest stories of 2005 from the nexus of technology, media, and business.
Wikipedia’s awkward adolescence. Last week, I wrote about the clumsy coming of age of Wikipedia (see “The Wikipedia War”), the online user-generated encyclopedia project, and how some of its founding tenets, notably, anonymity and openness to all, are bumping up against its popularity. Since I wrote the article, an independent study by the journal Nature found that Wikipedia was about as accurate as the Encyclopedia Britannica. Nonetheless, Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales has also recently come out in favor of some measures that would make the site more accountable. He’d better. Larry Sanger (who was also interviewed for my earlier story), has teamed up with the deep-pocketed, deep-thinking Joe Firmage to launch a new online encyclopedia project, called Digital Universe. For four years, it’s been Jimmy Wales against Encyclopedia Britannica. Now, Wales finds himself with some online competition as well.
Online video booms. This fall, I wrote about the major networks pushing more of their television-based video onto the Internet and also making that video free for users (“TV To Go”, “Must Surf TV,” and “Small-Screen Sea Change”). It’s hardly a magnanimous gesture, though: ads sold around video clips are the most lucrative online advertising. The news snippets are perfect for online carriage, with each rarely lasting more than a couple minutes. And moving the content online can also bring unexpected benefits. YouTube.com, a video-repository site for anyone who wants to upload video content, struck pay dirt when it hosted the video clip “Lazy Sunday,” a rap-skit from last week’s Saturday Night Live episode. The clip became the most popular in YouTube’s history.