Networked noughties 2003-2005

Yesterday I mapped the significant technological events of the years 2000-2002. Today I continue the retrospective with a review of the years 2003-2005.

The launch of one of the first social networking services Friends Reunited in 2000 paved the ways for a welter of new social networking tools which would revolutionise the way people connected, communicated and shared. The first of the 'giants' was launched in August of 2003. Myspace was to become the trend setter - within 3 years it had signed up an astounding 100 million users.

Just a couple of months later in October 2003, Mark Zuckerberg launched a small scale service for his friends and colleagues called Facemash at Harvard University. It was later to be renamed Facebook. However, we wouldn't see Facebook officially launched until September 2006. The history of both Myspace and Facebook are very well documented on their respective Wikipedia entries. In June 2003 we also saw the inception of a little known 3D multi-user virtual environment called Second Life.

2004 started off with the launch in February of the photosharing site Flickr. Flickr was yet another new concept in social networking, where conversations and connections were based upon the sharing of digital images. Currently it is estimated that Flickr hosts in excess of 4 billion images.

Music fans were delighted in June 2004 to witness the commercial launch of iTunes. Interfacing with the iPod, it allowed users to download just about any music track they wished to listen to... for a small fee. The music industry quickly capitalised, and by December of the same year, online downloads (including iTunes) surpassed physical sales of music for the first time.

2005 was an eventful year for the digirati. In January of that year Bebo (Blog Early, Blog Often) was launched and has steadily grown in popularity, particularly with younger age groups of users. Following close on its heels in February was a video sharing service we now know as YouTube. Launched officially in November 2005, YouTube became one of the greatest success stories of social networking, because B.Y. (Before YouTube) it was not an easy proposition to upload videos to the web. YouTube made it easy, and it is estimated that there are 15 hours of video uploaded each minute, and that Youtube attract 100 million viewers each month. Videos hosted by the site include cult classics amateur clips such as 'Star Wars Kid' and 'Charlie Bit My Finger'.

2005 was a great year for games enthusiasts too, with the introduction of the Nintendo DS (March), The Sony PSP (September) and Microsoft's XBox 360 (December). Each of these games consoles contributed in advancing digital gameplaying to a new level. 2003-2005 were three eventful years for the networked nation. What would 2006 bring? This series concludes tomorrow with a review of the years 2006-2009.

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