Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC, in VOA Special English.
I'm Bob Doughty. 2006 is almost over. On this special show, Shirley
Griffith and I look back at some trends from the past year.
The dictionary says a trend is a kind of movement or direction. People around
the world used their computers to buy goods, communicate with others, listen to
music, see pictures and learn about different places and ideas.
In 2006, more people around the world used new ways to communicate and
connect with each other through the Internet. We take a look at some kinds of
technology that became more popular this year.
The blog is one form of communication that increased in popularity. Blog is a
short way of saying Web log. Through these personal Web sites, people can share
their lives, ideas and opinions with anyone on the Internet. Millions of people
throughout the world are creating and reading blogs. There are
reportedly 13 million blogs in the United States alone.
People of all ages have their own blogs. For young people, they are a way to
show their writings and other forms of self-expression. Blogs also connect
people with other people who have the same interests. For example, teachers use
blogs to share ideas, experiences and concerns about their work with other
Many Web sites offer free services to create personal Web pages and fill them
with writings and pictures. These sites include "MySpace" used mainly by
teenagers and young adults. MySpace is an online community that lets people
share messages and pictures with an increasing number of friends. About 120
million people use MySpace. It is the most popular social networking site on the
YouTube is another Internet site that became more popular this year. This Web
site lets anyone create, share and watch short videos. People can watch almost
anything on YouTube: news, sports and entertainment events. Music videos. And
videos made by people in their own homes. These include videos of people singing
or dancing, or animals doing funny things.
YouTube says that people watch at least 100 million videos on the site
every day. Three young men created YouTube almost two years ago as a personal
video sharing service. They recently sold it to Google for more than one and one
half billion dollars.
Games and entertainment also became a larger part of the Internet this year.
One Internet social site is called Second Life. It is an online world in which
computer users create a new self and live a different life. They get married,
build homes, operate businesses, buy and sell goods, work, play and attend
school. About two million people take part in Second Life.
People also take part in fantasy sports leagues with the help of the
Internet. A fantasy sport is a game in which each member of a group acts as the
owner of a team. Each owner creates a team of real-life professional players to
compete against other teams in the league.
get a chance to make the same decisions professional owners and managers do. The
fantasy teams compete against each other using points earned by the real players
of the professional sport.
More than 15 million American adults play fantasy sports. The industry
earns more than one billion dollars each year on publications, memberships and
There were also some new trends in music this year. Many singers expressed a
serious side with performances and songs that had a clear political message.
For example, during her international concert tour, Madonna showed her
support for helping poor people in Africa. The country music group The Dixie
Chicks wrote songs about standing strong for their political beliefs in their
album "Taking the Long Way".Some fans praised the album while others rejected
Another example is this song from Bruce Springsteen, "How Can a Poor Man
Stand Such Times and Live".; He recorded it in honor of the people of New
Orleans and their struggle after hurricane Katrina.
Music groups that are part of the "independent"or "indie" rock style remained
very popular this year. These groups are called "indie"because they often choose
smaller record companies over major ones in order to protect their artistic
independence. Death Cab for Cutie and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs are two bands that
received great praise this year. Another is My Morning Jacket. Here the band
performs their song "It Beats 4 U".
Many bands were created this year as a result of new musical projects. For
example, Jack White sings with the rock band called The White Stripes. He
recently formed another band called The Raconteurs, which has become very
popular. Another new group called Gnarls Barkley was formed by the producer
Danger Mouse and the singer Cee-Lo Green. Their song, "Crazy," has become one of
the biggest hits of the year.
Finally, some sad music news this year. James Brown, one of the most
influential American singers during the past 50 years, died Monday at the
age of 73.
James Brown was known as the "Godfather of Soul" and "the
hardest working man in show business." Experts say he turned rhythm and blues
music into soul music. And he turned soul music into the music known as funk in
the late 1960s and early 1970s. Brown also influenced the development of disco
and rap music. He sold millions of records. And he was known for his
electrifying performances on stage.
James Brown was among the first group of musicians welcomed into the Rock and
Roll Hall of Fame in 1986. In 1992, he received a Grammy Award for his lifetime
work. One of his most popular songs is "Say it Loud (I'm Black and I'm Proud.)"
It was a statement of racial pride in 1968. We leave you with the James Brown
song "I Got You (I Feel Good.)"
I'm Bob Doughty. I hope you enjoyed our program today. It was written by
Brianna Blake, Dana Demange and Nancy Steinbach. Caty Weaver was our producer.
To read the text of this program and download audio, go to our Web site,
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English. And Happy New Year from all of us in Special English!