No doubt about it, 2006 was the year of video finally. After years of forecasts about video taking over the Web, this year saw video breaking...

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No doubt about it, 2006 was the year of video finally.

After years of forecasts about video taking over the Web, this year saw video breaking out of its role as a novelty and into something much, much more.

From mainstream media news hubs to homegrown Web logs, the online experience now includes a big dose of video. Amateur clips of goofy teenage shenanigans, on-demand versions of “Desperate Housewives,” tongue-in-cheek takes on the news — all have gained followings during the past year.

The big event in video’s coming out was Google’s purchase of YouTube, the online video sharing spot. The deal’s whopping $1.65 billion price tag left plenty of people shaking their heads. Yet whatever the economics of YouTube, the company changed the Web forever by popularizing the idea of sharing video clips.

Before YouTube, I watched video online now and then, typically for news coverage. But in the past year, that’s all changed. I’ve watched my friend’s son’s ballet performances, Bruce Springsteen concerts from the mid-1970s, and any number of hilarious clips of office pranks and amateur parodies — all on YouTube. Time magazine had YouTube on the brain when it named “You” as Person of the Year for 2006.

But video online means more than YouTube. Here are some of the highlights from the year:

Video podcasts: Sometimes called vidcasts (or vodcasts), these are essentially on-demand video series made available to subscribers for free. Rather than visiting a Web site to view video, you can subscribe to a video podcast with podcast-capable software, such as Apple’s iTunes. The video is downloaded automatically to your computer for you to view when you like (or to transfer it to an iPod or other digital media player). Some video podcasts, like “The Show with Ze Frank,” are indie productions, while others come from the likes of ABC News and National Geographic.

TV shows: Television shows, from “Battlestar Galactica” to “Lost,” are increasingly made available for free to view on your computer. In the case of “Battlestar,” you can even watch episodes portraying the action between this season and the last one, an innovation followed with fervor by fans.

Online news: Wherever news is happening, you will find someone with a video-ready cell phone or digital camera ready and willing to shoot the scene. And where does the footage end up? On YouTube and other video-sharing sites, such as Revver and Vimeo. The next time a news event is transpiring, just tune into YouTube a couple hours after the fact, and you will likely find clips of behind-the-scenes action unavailable on CNN or elsewhere.

Archival video: Video sharing doesn’t just mean the sharing of original material. Music fans in particular are digitizing decades-old footage from performances by everyone from Bruce Springsteen to Ethel Merman. Springsteen addicts, here’s a treat: Type “wings for wheels Springsteen” into YouTube, and you will have a hopelessly blurry early version of “Thunder Road.”

Mobile video: Video isn’t just for your PC. Apple’s iTunes offers TV shows to transfer to an iPod for $1.99 a pop, while cellphone providers are rushing to offer the Web’s video content over their phones.

Video editing: The latest video-sharing services, like eyespot (, let you edit your videos by trimming footage and adding slow motion, sepia and other effects.

Is there a downside to the video craze? Maybe. With all the video online, be prepared for a barrage of video advertising.