IanTheCool's Reviews
Short Reviews of Movies, Board Games, and Other Stuff

The Ten Most Important Websites

I realize this is going to be a tough list to make, not being a techie myself. And I also realize that the nature of the internet is constantly changing, which means this list will probably be obsolete in, oh, about three minutes. But here it is regardless.

10. Drudge Report

Journalism began to change, for better or worse, when Matt Drudge’s gossip site grew into an unstoppable force of online media. The Drudge Report made waves with its coverage of the Monica Lewinsky story. The news is now more instant than ever with news sites everywhere posting breaking news immediately. This new, instant news reporting is changing the face of journalism, a trail blazed by the Drudge report.

9. Amazon

The internet may have provided researchers with a great communication tool and computer geeks could find many applications for the world wide web and how to use it. But when amazon.com came along, the internet suddenly had a very down-to-earth and practical use: shopping.

Suddenly, people didn’t have to worry about how available a certain item was in their area. All they had to do was go online and type it up. Amazon started with books, but it soon spread to DVDs, toys, and all sorts of other items. Not to mention the slew of other online catalogues that popped up once retail companies saw the potential in online shopping.

8. Slashdot

The home of techie geeks across the net, slashdot is significant for being an innovator in user-driven content, which has so permeated today’s internet. It can well be argued that the “Web 2.0” which puts more emphasis on used participation got a huge kick start from slashdot.

Slashdot also has a reputation of crashing servers but linking to sites, a precursor to social link sites such as Digg. Slashdot also had a huge influence on our number 4 site….

7. Yahoo

Once upon a time, the only people who cared about the internet were research scientists and techie geeks. But in the mid to late 90s the mainstream public would soon come on board. Yahoo is significant for providing a transition for the common, everyday internet user and making the world wide web accessible to the mass public.

Yahoo had a whole range of basic services which for many people was there introduction to what the net could offer; email, search engine, chatrooms, news, games, etc. It was the portal to this brave new world. Yahoo is certainly not as relevant as it once was, but it was an important stepping stone in the history of the internet.

6. 4Chan

This may seem like an odd choice at first. How can a site where people post manga pictures be the one of the most important websites? Well, its not because they invented Rick Rolling. Its because of what they represent; freedom.

The internet may be the only true form of anarchy left in the world. There is no governing body for the web, and there are very few rules. Sure, companies like that in the number 1 spot may be working towards making the internet a place of capatilist venture, and Interpol and other law enforcement agencies are racing to write internet law, the origins of the online world grew from a state of freedom and anarchy. And perhaps no site out there represents this free spirit like 4Chan.

The Urban Dictionary calls the site “the very heart, soul, and life force of the internet.” Many claim that the whole concept of Freedom of Speech and Expression is ingrained within the code lines of 4Chan.  They have started countless internet memes and have constantly been a thorn in the side of the media.

You may not agree with the offensive content which dominates the pages of 4Chan, or the  behaviour of its users, but in a time when governments and large corporations are trying to gobble up power and control on our internet, 4 Chan leads the resistance and fights to maintain freedom on the world wide web.

5. Facebook

Okay, I know that people are going to want to come at me saying “well, myspace led to facebook” and “well friendster was before both of them”, and “what about classmates.com?”. Fair enough. Yet despite the fact that it is sitting on their shoulders, Facebook’s impact on the online world still dwarfs all of those together.

Facebook has permeated our modern culture to such an extent that this social network practically makes up the fabric which holds the internet together. It seems like everyone and their dog is on Facebook (literally in some cases), and it is the homebase for countless web surfers.

How useful facebook actually it can be debated. I mean, where would we be without instant status updates on what you had for lunch! In fact, Facebook seems to have succeeded in making people everywhere more annoying. Though despite this, its influence it pretty undeniable.

4. Wikipedia

The online encyclopedia which can be added to and edited by anyone in the world. It is beginning to become people’s first source for information on a wide range of topics; people, places, entertainment, chemistry, history, etc.

Many people despise Wikipedia as a source of information since there is no way to verify the validity if anyone can change any article. On the other hand there is the belief that Wikipedia is a truly democratic way of gather data and that with so many of the people contributing and editing, the truth will eventually win out.

No matter which side of the debate you are on, its hard not to deny that Wikipedia is changing the way we obtain, explore, and share knowledge.

3. Napster

Oh what waves this site made. This peer to peer sharing network had the entire music industry in a panic. And with good reason, since Napster changed their industry forever. The days of the recorded album are disappearing and musical artists have had to evolve rapidly to catch up with the demands that P2P has put on them. This notion of file sharing has also put pressure on the movie and television industries as well. Almost any song, film, whatever it is you want are available simply by sharing.

Although Napster is no longer with us, the internet has proven that pandora’s box has been opened and cannot be closed so easily. Other peer sharing sites like Kazaa and Limewire soon sprung from Napster’s ashes, which led to the new advent of torrents. Napster created a world where people can get whatever they want to get their hands on one way or another.

2. YouTube

I wonder is Andy Warhol really knew to what extent his famous quote would ring true. Everyone can be a fleeting celebrity now thanks to YouTube. You can find instant videos on practically anything. Not only that, but you can show your own videos to a wide audience. There appears to be no limits to this endless sharing of moving images and graphically represented ideas ideas. And cats.

YouTube is also affecting network television who have had to adjust through making their videos available online. YouTube is used by educators to teach their classes, used by aspiring artists to showcase their talents, and is sometimes just watched for a good laugh. It had broken open the barrier between audiences and those behind visual productions.

1. Google

Search engines are an essential part of internet browsing, and Google quickly took advantage of this. Its minimalist presentation and alternative search methods revolutionized web surfing. Google became the go-to site for looking up, well, anything. “To google’ is now a verb in the Oxford English Dictionary since its use has become so commonplace with people all over the world. No piece of information seems out of our reach anymore. Research has become as simple as the tapping of a few keys and the click of a buttons.

Google is also the fastest growing company of all time. From its humble beginnings it has become the dominant presence on the world wide web. It has branched out into Gmail and Google Maps and acquired other massive sites like YouTube and Blogger. Its capitalist nature is changing the entire face of the entire online service.

Google isn’t on the top of this list because of its technical dominance.  It is here because of what it represents; the civilizing of the internet.  Whether you believe this is a good thing or a bad thing, it is happening.  The once free-wheeling nature of the net is being streamlined.  Google has their hands in everything now, including the mapping of the entire world, even at street level, which is no small feat.  Google is dominating the internet and practically claiming it at its own.

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