Blogosphere’s rise to prominence. When Hurricane Katrina struck in August, it was the biggest natural disaster ever to hit the United States. The political fallout – with allegations of cronyism and incompetence – was the backdrop for the blogosphere’s coming out. It was a defining moment. The potent combination of TV newscasters actually being on the ground coupled with the blogosphere’s near-instantaneous fact-checking capabilities created a groundswell of anger over the government’s slow reaction to suffering in the Gulf Region. Bloggers dug up former FEMA Director Michael Brown’s dubious employment history and the federal government’s decision to delay levee reconstruction, which gave grist for on-the-scene television reports. Katrina coverage is regarded as the moment the national press core finally got its edge back – but much of the sharpening came from blogs (see “Katrina: A Defining Moment for Blogs”).
Mobile music tops the charts. Cellphoners jumped all over ringtones in 2005, and the cultural impact was enormous. When the handlers behind Coldplay were deciding how to break the band’s first single off their most recent album, they chose a decidedly unorthodox route for exposure: a ringtone (see “Coldplay Calling”). A short snippet of “Speed of Sound” was offered to Cingular Wireless subscribers before the general release of the album. It was a wise move. “We’ve been floored,” says Mark Nagel, director for entertainment and downloadable services for Cingular. What’s more, the “Crazy Frog” song, which was created as a ringtone, debuted at number one on the U.K. pop charts. Madonna also released the first single off her new album as a ringtone – making some observers wonder if cell phones will be the next staging ground for new musical acts.