Guardian Unlimited: Websites that changed the world
As the World Wide Web gets old we are seeing more and more lists of the best, greatest, worst, etc. The Guardian has an interesting list of the websites that changed the world, but it does show their biases being a British source. Number #6 (friendsreunited.com) and #15 (easyjet.com) are no doubt popular in the United Kingdom, but are largely unknown in the USA. Ignoring that possible bias, the list does include a number of sites that few could debate. Ebay at number 1 is hard to question. Ebay may have not been the first site to do proxy sales, but they popularized the idea. They did screw up by listing Wikipedia.com as opposed to .org. The site automatically redirects to .org. While Wikipedia revolutionized the concept of the wiki, I do think it was wise to emphasize that Wikipedia is not completely accurate. Neither is Encyclopedia Britannica, but that is another issue.
One that did surprise me was the inclusion of Napster. Napster has very limited influence anymore, furthermore I don't think it is as much much as a website as the software. Nobody went to Napster.com the same way people go to say Myspace or Youtube. Important, yes. Number #3 coming in front of Drudgereport, Blogger, Google, and Yahoo? No, nein, nyet...
Youtube coming in at #4 demonstrates that web video has came of age. Honestly though I find the use of Flash for video a complete abomination. Did anyone remember when Flash animation were vector graphics? I guess not. I think Youtube has brought back the quaint notion of a company that has made virtually no money, but people pour money into anyway. Will we still be talking about it five years from now? Who knows, but the idea certainly has changed things.
Blogger.com's inclusion demonstrates that most people don't have the time to learn to use even an easy html editor. Sad, but these days most average folks just run blogs, rather than conventional websites. Drudgereport I think must bother some on the left, that a former 7/11 clerk is worth millions with a larger audience than any progressive website. Heck, save for CNN Drudgereport is largely unrivaled. Slashdot proves that geeks still spend a lot of time online. Salon.com has proved that there is some demand for new media journalism, despite the constant claims by fuckedcompany.com that they were going to be dead any day now five years ago!
The most underrated site was probably Craigslist. Craigslist, not blogs or RSS feeds or the Web in general is not what is killing newspapers. It is Craigslist. Before Craigslist, people actually purchased classified ads, not anymore. Craigslist I think will be more influencial than most of the sites on this list.