Go beyond browsing. With these 39 exceptionally interactive websites and services, you can do anything from launching a private social network to publishing your own book. Here's our Web 2.0 survival guide.

We're enjoying the web's second great creative bloom. Speedy connections, sophisticated browser-based applications and portable devices that can bring the net wherever you roam make collaborating, creating and socialising online more addictively useful than ever.

But how does it all work – and, more importantly, how can you make it all work for you?

Over the following pages, we'll reveal the tools and tricks that'll help you unlock the power of Web 2.0: the new and improved internet.

The web isn't a spectator sport. While you can watch videos, chat to friends and enjoy countless other low-brainwave activities online, the internet's outlets for self-expression and creativity are boundless.

In fact, the medium doesn't come alive until you take advantage of the participatory web – the sites and services that can present you and your talents to the world.

Whatever your passion – creating video, networking with friends or colleagues, blogging, running a business, making music or publishing a novel – you're bound to find a site that can help you pursue your goals. While many of these services are free, others may charge from a few pounds to thousands.

Rather than let you make expensive mistakes, we've done the legwork for you. Here are our favourites in each category.

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