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Shortcuts: Living a Web 2.0 life

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(CNN) -- You've bought the odd thing on eBay, watched the Dove Beauty model get a quick fire makeover on YouTubeexternal link and the verb "to Google" is part of your everyday speech -- but how do you take your Internet usage to the next level and become a fully-fledged member of the Web 2.0 digerati?

Wiki-know-how: Start with Wikipediaexternal link, the web encyclopedia, which defines Web 2.0 as: "a supposed second-generation of Internet-based services ... that emphasize online collaboration and sharing among users." The key to Web 2.0 is personalization and interaction -- using cool Web-based tools to show off your creativity, wit and knowledge to the world.

Wikipedia might be your online information bible, but did you know you can add your own entries? Anyone, anywhere can submit or edit an article. But be warned, there are millions of people out there prepared to correct you if you get it wrong. You could also be labeled a "Wiki-vandal" if you're caught intentionally adding an incorrect entry. The punishment? A ban from being a Wiki contributor.

Top marks: Next, have a look at del.icio.usexternal link, which, despite its name, is not a food site. Ever been frustrated by using a computer that doesn't have your bookmarks? stores them online so you can access them from anywhere. You can "tag" the links by subject to make them easy to find later, and see what other people have marked as related, too.

Sites and sounds: While you're tagging your favorite Web sites, why not listen to some music at the same time? Last.fmexternal link is Web 2.0's personalized radio service -- it "scrobbles", or "listens in," to your media player (for example iTunes) to see what you are playing and cleverly suggests other music you might also like. It also matches you to other people with similar playlists and allows you to listen in to their music, all in an effort to help you broaden your musical tastes.

Photo fun: If you use a digital camera but your photos are downloaded to your computer or burnt to a CD never to be seen again, have a look at Flickrexternal link, a photo-sharing Web site. More than a million photographs are uploaded to Flickr every day, with about 250 million photos in total on the site. You can tag and share them with friends, family or like-minded enthusiasts. Flickr also encourages other developers to build software to turn your photos into calendars, postcards and books -- perfect for present-buying self-publicists.

I think therefore I blog: Once you've signed up to, registered with and got yourself a Flickr account, you're well on your way to living the Web 2.0 life -- but for your true badge of Web 2.0ism, you have to have a blog.

Blogs, short for Web logs, are essentially virtual versions of diaries or scrapbooks, the kind you used to keep when you were a kid. It's your chance to broadcast your thoughts, opinions and observations to the world. Tools on offer range from pure blogging sites like Blogger and Typepadexternal link through sites like LiveJournalexternal link to MySpaceexternal link and Bebo, which offer blogging along with social networking.

Explore and engage: The best way to really understand the benefits of Web 2.0 applications is to use them, so get clicking. But be warned, these sites are addictive -- and they're just the tip of the Web 2.0 iceberg.


Before: Dove's "Evolution" beauty campaign gives a model a quickfire makeover.



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