Figuring out the Web 2.0 Must Haves

I fall somewhere between the "average American" and the TechCrunch/Scoble/etc Web 2.0 enthusiast crowd when it comes to how I use new "Web 2.0" technology.  I’m familiar with most of what’s out there, but a lot of it sounds sorta fun to play around with and see what people are doing/saying as opposed to really being useful.  I have plenty of stuff to waste time on, so I’m focused on finding the things that actually help me do things or find information in better and easier ways.  Here’s a bit of history about my experience with this technology so far and things I’m checking out to maybe add to my list.

My good friend Konstantin Guericke (the test of whether you are good friends w/ Konstantin is if you can spell his name right without having to look it up – I’m not checking, so hopefully I got it right) was a co-founder of LinkedIn, so I’ve been a user since that service launched.  I’ve used it to make a number of business connections/introductions and have facilitated many connections through that.  Activity on LinkedIn seemed to slow down for a while, but in the last few months it has really started to pick up for me again (based on amount of notifications/requests I get).

I was an early member (June 2002) of Friendster through knowing Jonathan Abrams, but never really used it after initially signing up (but Jonathan’s new company, Socializr, has replaced Evite for me as my go-to place for organizing group activities).  Friendster just never really caught on in any of my peer groups.  Long before that (1997!) I was signed up on, a site that no longer exists, but doesn’t get mentioned nearly enough in all the social networking hoopla.  Another early site I have had an account on is Ryze.  Like SixDegrees, Ryze doesn’t get nearly enough credit for blazing the trail of business-focused social networking.  I never found enough value in Ryze to compel me to sign up for a paid account, and without the paid account it didn’t let me access enough functionality to be useful, so I never really used that site either.  I signed up on a few other sites including Tribe, but none of them gained enough critical mass among my peers/friends to get me to stick around.  I also checked out MySpace briefly, but found it too irritating to even make a profile there.

I jumped on the Facebook bandwagon a while back largely out of curiosity.  I put a super-sparse profile on there and added a couple of friends just to see what it was all about, not really a legit user of the site.  But even without adding any friends myself, as people sign up and upload their address books, I get more and more friends added.  And unlike many of the previous sites, people update their information there a lot.  So, while I don’t use it on a day-to-day basis, I definitely check it regularly to see what some people are up to, plus it’s a very lightweight way to keep connected with people.  As more and more people sign up, I see myself checking it more often.  I can see why a lot of people spend so much time on Facebook.  However, I’m already starting to get irritated by the applications on people’s pages – a lot of the profiles are starting to get as annoying as MySpace pages.

I finally caved and today created a Twitter account.  I’m not sure what exactly I’ll get out of it besides being able to pop up a message on Scoble’s screen, but i guess I’ll find out. 

Over the next few weeks I’m going to play around with a number of other Web 2.0 apps/sites that people are talking about to see which ones I find useful. Google Reader I guess would be considered in this category as well.  One site that I access all the time, but don’t participate on is Yelp.  It’s my go-to place for bar/restaurant reviews, replacing CitySearch and other review guides.  Two I’m contemplating playing around with are Flixster and Criticker to see if they can perhaps provide me a better experience than my default movie site, Rotten Tomatoes.

So, here’s my current scorecard.  Open to any/all suggestions of things I need to be checking out.

Winners: LinkedIn, Facebook, Socializr, Yelp, Google Reader
Losers: Friendster, Tribe, Ryze, MySpace
TBD: Twitter, Flixster, Criticker, many others

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