The Web 2.0 Expo at San Francisco's Moscone Center West, doesn't take up a huge amount of space: Startups predominate, and most don't have money for big flashy booths. But there's more cool new technology per square foot here than at many big trade shows.
The quality and usefulness of the Web-based services presented here vary widely, and many will never see a real commercial launch. But if you have the patience and curiosity to try some intriguing free beta software, consider the ones described below. They are available now or will be available shortly.
Content creation and publishing
Oosah lets you create customised multimedia slide shows (Oosahs) using Web videos and still images from your own hard drive, or from major social networking and sharing sites such as Facebook and YouTube. Once you've collected the images you want to use, you can drag and drop them onto a workspace and then add transitions and music. You can publish the finished product on your Web site or on removable media (such as a DVD), or export it to PDF for printing out.
Sprout makes creating Flash Web pages drag-and-drop simple, even for newbies. Not only can you fiddle with media and text, but you can insert preset widgets — a calendar or a button, for example — or services such as Twitter feeds or a PollDaddy survey. When you're done, you can post your creation to any of 20 popular sites (MySpace, Facebook, Blogger, and so on) at the click of a button — or cut and paste the HTML on your own Web site.
Springnote is a simple notebook application that comes with a collection of templates — calendars for to-do lists, an event planner, a reading list, a recipe, and so on. It's easy to set up and might appeal to people who want a little more than they get from the free-form Zoho Notebook or Google Docs.
HyLighter is a collaboration service that focuses strictly on documents. Users can annotate a document (each user's highlighting appears in a different colour) and then invite other users to help with the writing and editing. The basic selling point here is a versioning tool that lets participants add comments before or while changes are made.