Web trenz!

Columnist Annalee Newitz 

It’s the time of year when we celebrate new ideas and fresh memes on the Interwebs. For some reason, March is the month for all the big Webbish conferences, such as South by Southwest Interactive and O’Reilly’s Emerging Technology shindig in San Diego. Strange new Web apps are announced; venture capital is hurled forcefully at people who wear hoodies over button-down shirts; everybody does freaky shit with their cell phones. In case you’re feeling left out, I’ll preview a few Web trenz (that’s how the kids spell it) for you.

Everybody is sick of the blogosphere because there’s only one. I mean, who wants to write things that appear in only one place? That’s why the Interwebbers are going crazy for the new blogomultisphere trend. Liberal bloggers need an antisphere where their parallel selves are writing about why Bush’s new plan to beef up troops in Iraq is a great idea. Or a bizarro sphere where their bizarro selves write about the expressionist era in cute art. One of the breakout content sites of the blogomultisphere is the sliderzone, where bloggers can jump from sphere to sphere, guest writing for parallel universe blogs and antimatter wikis. Questions raised by denizens of the sliderzone include whether copyright licenses in the sphere also hold for anticontent produced in the antisphere. Or are there antilicenses? What about bizarro licenses? You can see why this is an idea whose time has come.

MyMeganSpace is a social network like Facebook that sprang organically from California’s “Megan’s Law Database” of sex offenders. People with similar sex offenses wanted to figure out ways to connect and form special-interest groups, so they started tagging their profiles in the Megan’s Law database. They can add other members as “buddies” or “prison pals.” Next MyMeganSpace added RSS feeds so that users could update their MeganBuddies on new events in their lives, like which street they slept on after getting kicked out of apartments by landlords who don’t like streakers. Another great feature of MyMeganSpace is that you can search on which year people got out of prison as well as things like hobbies and parole officers. People who are sick of having to use Kevin Poulsen’s software program to find convicted sex offenders on MySpace are totally psyched about MyMeganSpace!

Last year was all about podcasting, but this year it’s podthrusting. At last, Apple has figured out that its hardware-design sensibility is perfect for mobile sex toys with media capability. With podthrusting you don’t have to go to iTunes to suck down the latest episode of The Office. Instead The Office will thrust itself at you. Each time you get a data thrust, your iPod or other mobile device will play the ringtone of your choice. Then it will burrow into the orifice of your choice. What’s great about podthrusting, as you may have guessed, is that it’s all about choices. Plus, it’s perfect for selling every kind of content, from new ringtones and songs, to new vibration patterns and lube. After just one week of podthrusting, I really can’t believe that I ever thought of my dildo and my phone as separate entities.

One of the biggest problems with wikis is writing. People like the idea of wikis, and they like the word wiki – but they just don’t like writing wikis. That’s where Annoturk comes in. Using micropayments, Annoturk helps you pay people in the developing world very tiny amounts of money to annotate all the information on all the wikis you’re supposed to be using. It’s like micro-outsourcing. You might pay 50 cents to a guy in Sri Lanka to add historical information about Lowell, Mass., to a wiki devoted to an upcoming Boston-area conference you’re planning. Or you could pay kids in China’s Shandong province to write small articles about every noun on your work-collaboration wiki. Annoturk is good for the developing world, and it’s good for writing. Plus, it’s just convenient when you’re trying to fill up space with information. When I think about how crazy these trenz are getting, I really feel like the future is happening. We are so connected!

About the author Annalee Newitz (annalee at techsploitation dot com) is a surly media nerd who is currently being punished for being a pop-up ad in a previous life.