This is the first in a series of blogs looking at the history and future of Web 2.0. From Facebook pages to viral Barack Obama speeches, the latest boom to hit the media is the rise of user-created content. Services such as Facebook and YouTube have created a new business model: rather than selling content to consumers, as media companies traditionally have done.

The old saying that the rich get richer and the poor get poorer applies to cyberspace, too: these maps comparing router and population density show that the developing world has a long way to go to catch up to North America, Western Europe and Japan when it comes to getting online. The One Laptop Per Child project aims to change all that, designing, constructing and distributing Internet-ready laptops to children in developing countries.

In Japan, cell phones and texting are much more widespread among young people than they are here. Much of what we do on computers is done through phones there, with the result that those students that own cell phones spend an average of two hours a day on them. Japanese TV dramas even feature scenes where the dialogue is entirely done through texting, with characters thumb-typing furiously while the messages appear as subtitles. Now another part of life has been squeezed onto the one-inch screen, resulting in the creation of the cell phone novel.

A contest asks young people to make videos showing their vision of what sex education should be.

Pages