Continuing with our series (music and film still to come, TV already here), what websites would you nominate as the most important of the decade? We’re not asking for the “best” per se, and we’re leaving it open with regards to what constitutes “importance,” but humor us and play along. We’ve started the ball rolling, with personal picks, but the list needs your participation too.
All we ask is that you only list one per post, then let others have a turn, since we want this list to form communally, not simply to be a collection of everyone else’s lists. Also, be sure to say why it’s important.
Craigslist (Jonathan Gray): I chose a slightly more arcane pick for the TV Show list, so I’ll go mainstream here. Nowadays, when people talk about the death of newspapers, it’s blogs that get the blame, but back in the early to mid 00s, it was Craig who they all wanted to kill, and most nashing of journalistic teeth had Craig at the center. He took away a huge portion of their revenue stream, allowed many of us to find apartments without evil brokers, gave local TV news broadcasters yet another site to have a moral panic about, and showed that you don’t need flash graphics to succeed online. For all those who have ever bought, sold, given, or found something or someone on Craigslist, raise a glass to Craig.
Google News (Andrew Bottomley): It’s almost too obvious to state but over the past decade the Internet has drastically changed how we access and consume media. On a daily basis, most of us consume a greater quantity and variety of music, video, photos, reviews, personal correspondence, and the like than ever before, and that information comes to us from both more numerous and more diverse sources. There are a lot of sites that have enabled these changes – Wikipedia, YouTube, Twitter, Flickr, Yelp, Digg, to name a few – but few were more consequential than Google News. The Internet search giant’s news aggregator revolutionized not only how people read the news (online and for free) but what news they read, as the service pulls from more than 4,500 English-language news sites. As a result, readers can instantaneously find news sources, both big and small, from all over the world. This decentralization of the new industry has allowed readers to freely seek out whatever news they wish – no longer confining them to the major TV networks, cable news outlets, and major daily newspapers and news agencies. Moreover, it helped transform the news into a two-way medium by enabling readers to effortlessly share it with other readers and subsequently engage in discussion about it through other alternate channels of communication such as Twitter.
YouTube (Josh David Jackson): The one-stop site for music videos, viral ad campaigns, cute animal videos, hate messages, TV theme songs, machinima, lip-synch videos, ghost riding the whip, beauty tips, bloopers, local news segments, home videos, live performances, recut trailers, Viacom content, college lectures, live TV slips, incredible amateurs, old commercials, grassroots agitation, Astroturf, coming out stories, science stunts, fan films, home improvement demos, executions, dumbassery, animation, language lessons, wedding entrances, nonsense, video game walkthroughs, tired memes, funny babies, student films, marriage proposals, comedy bits, international TV, odes, guided meditation, protest footage, rants, editing virtuosos, gross-out videos, workout routines, public service announcements, confessionals, AFHV clips, historical footage, awesomely bad TV, conspiracy theories, etc.
Real Clear World/Politics/Markets (Matt Sienkiewicz): There is perhaps a bit of recency bias with this choice, but the Internet is nothing if not fleeting. Between 2008’s compulsive poll-checking and 2009’s onslaught of bad news, RCW/P/M has provided a wonderful, truly global alternative to the Wild West World of the blogosphere. The sites are essentially just filters and aggregators, but they’re really good ones. Just like any skillful montagist, they have the ability to take two items and, through juxtaposition, make them worth much more than the sum of the parts. Wall Street Journal articles on Finance sit next to John Nichol’s work in The Nation; a China Post analysis of terrorism in Malaysia resides, perhaps a little bit uncomfortably, right below an NY Post story about drones and the War on Terror. RCW/P/M shows how the Internet can complement Old Media by being fast, global and creative without sacrificing the editorial oversight and long-term research that makes newspaper writing so important.