Here is a summary of the week's Web Tech action on ReadWriteWeb, the first full working week of 2008!

Highlights this week: Our coverage of CES, including Web product and strategy announcements from Microsoft and Yahoo!; Google and Facebook join DataPortability Workgroup; a review of the latest Web adventure for television show Lost; an analysis of the 'killer apps' for the Semantic Web; some new, stunning, stats from the world of podcasting; Newsgator releases its premium products for free; and predictions for next week's Macworld conference.

Web News: CES

This week CES, the famous consumer electronics tradeshow, was held in Las Vegas. As we do every year, ReadWriteWeb covered the big Web Technology announcements made at CES.

One of the highlights was the keynote of Bill Gates (his last at CES), which is traditionally a showcase of the latest in Microsoft technology. This year there were a slew of products and partnerships announced, including a deal with NBC on an Olympics '08 website built with Silverlight technology. Overall Gates and co's presentation was less futuristic vision this year; and more about beta products and what's coming in 2008. In other words, it was much less about Internet-connected fridges, and more about what you can do now on your Xbox 360. Read our full review to find out where Microsoft is headed on the Web in 2008.

In related news, this week Microsoft announced a $1.2 billion takeover offer for Norwegian enterprise search company Fast Search and Transfer.

Yahoo also were active at CES. Yahoo! announced last Sunday night that it will be turning its mobile service, Yahoo! Go, into an open platform for 3rd party developers. Unlike Google's Android OS, the Yahoo! Go platform will work on more than 250 mobile devices that Go already works on. The following day Yahoo! co-founder and CEO Jerry Yang was on stage at CES, showing a fascinating glimpse into the future of Yahoo. Yang outlined a product strategy that takes the simplicity and all-in-one portal approach that Yahoo! is famous for - and pushes it into the digital life arena by utilizing email, social networking, mobile and widgets. In Yang's words, Yahoo! aims to be the "most essential starting point for your life".

Also see Marshall's post about Flickr enabling OpenID.

Our network blog last100 had a great round-up of the Internet TV announcements at CES. Steve O'Hear saw a lot of products that bridge the gap between the PC and TV, or bring Internet content directly to a television. Highlights included the SlingCatcher (Sling Media), D-Link’s newly launched PC-on-TV Player, TiVo Desktop 2.6 (TiVo), and Internet-connected TVs from Sharp, Samsung and Panasonic.

Other Web News: Google and Facebook join DataPortability Workgroup

We broke the story this week that Google and Facebook had joined the Portability Workgroup. The group is working on a variety of projects to foster an era of Data Portability - where users can take their data from the websites they use to reuse elsewhere and where vendors can leverage safe cross-site data exchange for a whole new level of innovation. Good bye customer lock-in, hello to new privacy challenges. If things go right, this announcement may turn out to be a very important one in the history of the internet.

Later in the week, The Data Portability Working Group announced that key people from LinkedIn, Flickr, SixApart and Twitter are joining the group too.

Trends

15 Questions for an Early Facebook User

Alex Iskold's sister Julia was one of the first users of Facebook. She is now a senior at the Newhouse School of Communications at Syracuse University and will be graduating in May. He thought it would be interesting to interview her about the Facebook and her experiences with it over the years. In this post is the revealing 15 question interview.

Related: Reported Upcoming Facebook Features: Good, Obvious, Confusing and Hide Facebook Apps: Official Tool Coming Soon

The Obama Bump Felt on Facebook

Ah, what a difference a caucus makes. In November, when ABC and Facebook announced their partnership for US political coverage we, like many other tech pundits, expressed skepticism. We noted that polls on the Facebook politics section were drawing just around 1,000 participants -- "a microscopic number" compared to the 17 million US members of voting age on the site (now over 18 million). But just over a month later, things seem to have turned around completely.

Wizzard Media: 1 Billion Downloads in 2007, Podcasting Far from Dead

Wizzard Media, owners of the Libsyn, Switchpod and Blast Podcast networks, announced that it passed the 1 billion download mark in 2007. While online media consumption numbers are notoriously hard to verify, Wizzard's have some serious merit. They are ten times what several competitors claimed earlier this month.

SEE MORE WEB TRENDS COVERAGE IN OUR TRENDS CATEGORY

Web Products

Semantic Web: What Is The Killer App?

The Semantic Web has been in the making for some time and people think it is nearing maturity. We have written about this trend extensively, with our two most notable posts being an analysis of the challenges of the classic bottom-up approach and the promise of the new top-down one. Regardless of how the Semantic Web will come about, for it to flourish it needs to hit the mainstream. There is no way that consumers will appreciate the elegance and mathematical soundness of RDF and OWL. People don't care about math, they care about utility and even more, about fun. What the Semantic Web needs, then, is a killer app.

ABC's Web Adventure for Lost - The Future of Entertainment

It begins with billboards spotted in exotic places like Knoxville, Tennessee and Ames, Iowa and posted online by curious Lost fans. The billboards advertise a URL, "FlyOceanicAir.com." Upon visiting the website, you are sucked into an adventure involving multiple websites, video diaries, photos with text hidden among the pixels, clue hunts, and strategy games. You can even call a toll-free phone number and get progress updates about the search for missing Oceanic Flight 815. Interesting characters and mysteries keep web players engaged and new content is posted at seemingly random intervals, forcing frequent check-ins to see if there's anything new.

So begins Lost's second Alternate Reality Game, which new RWW author Sarah Perez investigated...

The Many Faces of Hulu

Part of Hulu's strategy is to not only be a destination, but also a hub for the distribution of content from NBC Universal and News Corp. They do this in two ways: 1. by letting ordinary users embed clips elsewhere on the web, and 2. by partnering with major media sites to deliver commercial content. The result is that consumers have a number of choices for where they can view the content on Hulu.com. In this post we took a look at a handful of Hulu-powered sites, including Hulu itself.

NewsGator Sets RSS Readers Free - Will Desktop Readers Make a Comeback?

NewsGator, which offers the most complete end-to-end suite of RSS reader tools on the market and possibly the most widely used offline readers (NetNewsWire and FeedDemon), announced that its most popular products would be set free. As in beer. According to NewsGator founder and CTO Greg Reinacker, the reason for going free is simple: "What we’re working to do is to saturate the market with our clients [...] we want our clients to become ubiquitous."

We ran a poll based on this news, asking: What type of RSS Reader do you use the most? Here are the results:

Web-based (e.g. Bloglines, Google Reader, Rojo) 42%
Desktop (e.g. FeedDemon, NetNewsWire) 39%
Email-based client (e.g. Thunderbird, Newsgator) 4%
I subscribe to emails from individual blogs 1%
Start page (e.g. Pageflakes, Netvibes, iGoogle) 11%
Portal-based (e.g. MyYahoo, ThePortNetwork) 1%
Browser (e.g. Firefox Live Bookmarks, IE, Flock) 2%
Other (please comment) 1%

Related: AideRSS Raises Money To Attack Information Overload

SEE MORE WEB PRODUCTS COVERAGE IN OUR PRODUCTS CATEGORY

Macworld Predictions

While CES was raging in Las Vegas, many were wondering what Apple has in store for their own annual expo, Macworld, which kicks off this coming Monday. We've combed through some of the top Mac rumors sites to pick out our favorite Macworld predictions and assigned a percentage of probability to each.

Last year it was the iPhone, two years ago it was the Intel iMac, the year before that the iPod shuffle and the Mac mini. While clearly, not every year is as exciting as the last, Apple always has something in store for us.

Related: Poll: What Will Be Announced at Macworld?

That's a wrap for another week! Enjoy your weekend everyone.