Take text messaging. What started as a staple of teen communication is being used to gain access to rock concerts and raise awareness and support for poverty relief in Africa. Tickets to the recent Live 8 shows around the world (part of the One Campaign to end poverty) were made available via a text-messaging lottery. For those who didn't get tickets, the shows were streamed live over broadband. Text messaging also has been used during U2 concerts to gather names--in real time--of concertgoers who want to support the One Campaign. You can read more about the technology behind the initiative in my blog, U2 Uses IT To Change The Live Concert Experience--And Support the One Campaign.
Like many industries being transformed through technology and new marketing concepts, rock concerts and global activism are no exceptions. Perhaps Bono said it best: "There is no limit to science and the human heart."
Another way existing technologies are being used in powerful new ways is in how companies such as Google, Microsoft, Sabre, and Yahoo are improving the user experience on the Web through a combination of Web development technologies known as Ajax. The core technologies have been around for a decade or more, but they're being used together in new ways to make Web applications act and feel like desktop applications. No more annoying "page loading" wait times!
Of course, it's much more than that. In the case of Google, it's also spawning an interesting business model--it will give away its APIs for its Ajax applications, such as its new map application, Google Earth, but it retains the rights to advertise on sites that use it.
Not everyone is applauding the use of Ajax, by the way. You can find out what Macromedia, Sun Microsystems, and others have to say about it in this week's cover story (Fuel For The Web).
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To find out more about Stephanie Stahl, please visit her page on the Listening Post.