A major new trend for 2008 and beyond will be the growth of international social and business networking sites. Sites like LiveMocha.com, LinkedIn.com or Google Finance discussions are drawing participants from countries all over the world.
LiveMocha.com, along with Praxis' LANGUAGE+Pod.com sites like SpanishPod.com, allow people all over the world to learn a language from native speakers, also located all over the world.
The potential for these services is enormous. Profitability, however, may be a more elusive thing to measure easily. People that speak more than one language fluently certainly have the potential to earn more income. People that interact globally through services like LinkedIn.com or Google Finance might possibly advance more quickly in business or investment positions. It all depends on how people use the service, how many people contribute to the sites, and the quality of those contributions.
Google Finance offers investors the chance to chat, gossip, or rant about their favourite or most-hated stocks. Certain shares like, Apple Inc., Microsoft, and Google seem to have attracted a large number of followers in many nations. Among the green new investors in these discussion groups are many experienced traders. Yahoo Finance once offered the promise of 'insider information' but was overwhelmed by junk postings over a year ago.
In the past major networking sites tended to segregate users through language or nation-specific versions of their web portals. Now the trend is to have people from many nations mix it up in many forums, usually in English.
The prospect of the world using a global computer network to develop greater understanding is phenomenal. It was expected that business would profit from the 'Net but the benefits versus costs to society were once less evident. Easy access to bank and other accounts has also given criminals a new avenue for theft. Some innocents sharing personal details have suffered misfortune. Shut-ins, the elderly, and people living in remote areas find new benefits for the Internet every day. Think of the corners EBay reaches into for example
Of course there is still a digital divide and most people in the world do not have easy access to the Internet. That will be a given for many years but the future is growing in the user audience currently online and soon to get on the Internet.