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The new culture on the Web is all about consumer creation; it's composed of things like the nearly 30 million blogs out there and the 70 million photos available on Flickr. With a click of the mouse, anyone can be a journalist, a photographer, or a DJ. The audience -- that 1 billion-plus throng linked by the Web--itself is creating a new ***** of social media. That's leading to the creation of hundreds of promising Next Net businesses like the ones that follow.

Company: Digg (San Francisco)
What it is: News aggregator
Next Net bona fides: The site's links are picked by the readership, which has been doubling every three months; news items with the most votes make the homepage.

Last.fm (London)
What it is: Social radio
Next Net bona fides: Its software creates a personalized streaming radio station based on the digital music you already listen to, shares your playlist on the Web, and suggests music from other closely *ated playlists.

Company: Newsvine (Seattle)
What it is: Collaborative publisher
Next Net bona fides: Readers vote and comment on stories but can also organize their own pages and write their own stories, for which they collect 90 percent of associated ad revenues.

Company: Tagworld (Santa Monica)
What it is: Social networking
Next Net bona fides: With cutting-edge Web software enabling blogs, photo and music sharing, online dating, and more, members confront a rich smorgasbord of ways to interact, and everything can be tagged for easy searching.

Company: YouTube (San Mateo, CA)
What it is: Video sharing
Next Net bona fides: This site lets people upload, watch, and share millions of video clips. All videos are converted to Flash (a Web-tailored format for graphics and video), making them easy to import into blogs or webpages.

Hoping to dominate social media, it's gobbling up promising startups (Del.icio.us, Flickr, Webjay) and experimenting with social search (My Web 2.0) that ranks results based on shared bookmarks and tags.

As we move toward the Next Net, some of the most useful sites will be those that either help "mash up" -- meaning mix and match -- content from other parts of the Web or act as a filter for the overwhelming mountains of information now at people's fingertips. The companies that follow use content already on the Web as a starting point and then improve on it by organizing it in a new way.

Company: Bloglines (Los Gatos, CA)
What it is: Online feed reader
Next Net bona fides: The site collects blogs and news from all over the Web and presents it in one consistent, updated, multifeed mashup.

Company: Eurekster (San Francisco)
What it is: Search mashup
Next Net bona fides: This do-it-yourself search engine, or swicki, allows you to define sites you want to search, post the results on your blog or website, and get a cut of any search ads your audience clicks on.

Company: Simply Hired (Mountain View, CA)
What it is: Job search engine
Next Net bona fides: It searches nearly 4.5 million listings on other job and corporate sites; subscribers receive an RSS feed or e-mail alert when a job that meets their parameters pops up.

Company: Technorati (San Francisco)
What it is: Blog search engine
Next Net bona fides: The site filters the almost 30 million existing blogs, shows how many other blogs link to a particular post, and can rank blogs by topic.

Company: Trulia (San Francisco)
What it is: Real estate mashup
Next Net bona fides: Combining home listings from agents' websites with Google Maps, the site is becoming a hit in California and is expanding into other regions.

Company: Wink (Mountain View, CA)
What it is: Tag search engine
Next Net bona fides: By searching user-generated tags on Next Net sites like Del.icio.us and Digg, Wink filters the Web so users can sort links into different collections and add their own tags and bookmarks.

Incumbent To Watch: Google
Already the ultimate Web filter through general search as well as blog, news, shopping, and now video search, it's encouraging mashups of Google Maps and search results, and offers a free RSS reader.

For nearly a century, the phone, and voice as we know it, has existed largely in the confines of a thin copper wire. But now service providers can convert voice calls into tiny Internet packets and let them loose on fast connections, thus mimicking the traditional voice experience without spending hundreds of millions on infrastructure. All you need are powerful--but cheap--computers running specialized software. The Next Net will be the new phone, creating fertile ground for new businesses.

Company: Fonality (Culver City, CA)
What it is: Open-source telephony software
Next Net bona fides: It sells a $1,000 box that allows a PC to use open-source software to mimic a PBX system that costs five times as much.

Company: SIPphone (San Diego)
What it is: Internet phone software
Next Net bona fides: Its Gizmo Project application allows free PC-to-PC calls, cheap PC-to-phone calls, and sound effects.

Company: Iotum (Ottawa, Ontario)
What it is: Presence management software
Next Net bona fides: With its app, users will be able to control where and when they receive voice or text data, routing calls to their phones, e-mail, or RSS feed-and blocking calls from, say, creditors.

Company: Vivox (Framingham, MA)
What it is: Peer-to-peer voice technology Next Net bona fides: Its service integrates voice, video, messaging, and social-networking capabilities into existing data networks.

Incumbent To Watch: eBay (Skype)
The pioneer in the field and still the front-runner, Skype brings together free calling, IM, and video calling over the Web; eBay will use it to create deeper connections between buyers and sellers.

It's been a long time -- all the way back to the dawn of desktop computing in the early 1980s -- since software coders have had as much fun as they're having right now. But today, browser-based applications are where the action is. A killer app no longer requires hundreds of drones slaving away on millions of lines of code. Three or four engineers and a steady supply of Red Bull is all it takes to rapidly turn a midnight brainstorm into a website so hot it melts the servers. What has changed is the way today's Web-based apps can run almost as seamlessly as programs used on the desktop, with embedded audio, video, and drag-and-drop ease of use.

Company: JotSpot (Palo Alto)
What it is: Wikis and online spreadsheets
Next Net bona fides: A pioneer of Web collaboration apps, a.k.a. wikis, it has unveiled its new Tracker application, which provides a powerful, highly collaborative online spreadsheet.

Company: 30Boxes (San Francisco)
What it is: Online calendar
Next Net bona fides: This Web-based software allows families and groups to create private social networks, organize events, track schedules, and share photos; it may soon allow you to save phone numbers as hyperlinks and make calls by simply clicking on a link.

Company: 37Signals (Chicago)
What it is: Online project management
Next Net bona fides: Its Basecamp app, elegant and inexpensive, enables the creation, sharing, and tracking of to-do lists, files, performance milestones, and other key project metrics; *ated app Backpack, recently *eased, is a powerful online organizer for individuals.

Company: Writely (Portola Valley, CA)
What it is: Online word processing
Next Net bona fides: It enables online creation of documents, opens them to collaboration by anyone anywhere, and simplifies publishing the end result on a website as a blog entry.

Company: Zimbra (San Mateo, CA)
What it is: Online e-mail
Next Net bona fides: Taking aim at Microsoft Outlook, its Ajax-based application can, among other things, bring up your calendar for any date your mouse encounters, launch Skype for any phone number, or retrieve a Google map for any address.

Incumbent To Watch: Microsoft
By rolling out Windows Live, Office Live, and other Next Net-centric software, it hopes to grab a dominant -- if not monopolistic -- share of the webtop, which Bill Gates regards as a crucial strategic priority.

A growing number of companies are either offering themselves as Web-based platforms on which other software and businesses can be built or developing basic tools that make some of the defining hallmarks of the Next Net possible.

Company: Brightcove (Cambridge, MA)
What it is: Internet TV distributor
Next Net bona fides: It's creating a video-distribution platform over the Web for producers large and small.

Company: Jigsaw (San Mateo, CA)
What it is: Business contact database
Next Net bona fides: In exchange for their own contact lists, salespeople use this site to access a virtual Rolodex of managers at nearly 150,000 companies.

Company: SimpleFeed (Palo Alto)
What it is: Opt-in RSS marketing
Next Net bona fides: By allowing RSS feeds to be customized to the desires of each recipient and tracked individually, the site makes such feeds a powerful marketing tool.

Company: Salesforce.com (San Francisco)
What it is: Platform for online enterprise software
Next Net bona fides: It pioneered Web-based software and is trying to become a marketplace and host for other online apps through its AppExchange.

Company: Six Apart (San Francisco)
What it is: Blogging tools
Next Net bona fides: The company helped kick off and sustain the Next Net with its Moveable ***** blogging software and *****Pad blogging service.

Incumbent To Watch: Amazon
It's becoming a major Web platform by opening up its software protocols and encouraging anyone to use its catalog and other data; its Alexa Web crawler, which indexes the Net, can be used as the basis for other search engines, and its Mechanical Turk site solicits humans across cyberspace to do things that computers still can't do well, such as identify images or transcribe podcasts.