WFOEOTYL #2: Eight Web Sites in ’08

Science & Nature Column
Written by Nathan Mattise

End of the year book lists are still wildly popular but, to be honest, I think most of my reading these days comes online (just ask the journalism industry if this is the trend – I’m not alone). This merits the question, where are all the year end web site lists?

Well (clearly) I’m no expert, but here’s one to start. A few guidelines first…

  • So many web sites are created daily that it gets hard to keep track of them. A site doesn’t necessarily have to be created in 2008 to qualify. Instead a site could’ve experienced major updates, grown exponentially or just first appeared on my radar within this calendar year.
  • This isn’t a most popular web site list. These web sites are significant for a variety of things but page views is not the deciding factor.
  • Finally, if I haven’t seen the web site, I can’t rank it. I visit a decent amount of blogs that would hopefully link me to what I need to currently be viewing.

And now time for the list. In descending order…

8. NYTimes.com – Modern Love and Measure for Measure

There has to be a major web site on any year-end list and the NYT has embraced the online platform better than any other journalistic outlet. Their main page is sleek and user friendly, they have a plethora of online slideshows and multimedia reports but what does it for me are the variety of blogs they offer. Modern Love and Measure for Measure are my two favorites – the first is personal essays from authors/readers about love in many different forms while the later is about songwriting from a few pros (notably Andrew Bird and Suzanne Vega). Any of the stories on the Modern Love act as a good starting point but the Vega essay on Tom’s Diner is required reading for aspiring Measure to Measure fans.

7. Palin as President

Sarah Palin parodies were well-documented in ’08. In the WWW realm none got more exposure for it then PalinAsPresident.com (c’mon, it even had an entire TIME article devoted to it). The site is simply Palin in her office surrounded by pictures of other mavericks with various click options revealing some signature Palin-isms. I can’t find anything on why or how or where it was created, but when even the Washington Post is singing your praises, you’re at least a big Internet fad.

6. Mixwit

[mixwit_mixtape wid=”b84e4e07d42879112b8c58645ae0f9e7″ pid=”2b7498c922a51cb1d51dc04f013af418″ un=”NateMattise” width=”426″ height=”327″ center=”true”]

C’mon, how cool is that? The artistry of mixtapes looks a little different today with CDs and iPod playlists but Mixwit.com let you have the retro look and utilize it in a modern setting. Their song database was huge, their html codes for posting were easily compatible on popular social networking sites and they let you upload or create your own art on the tape itself. Unfortunately for all of us, Mixwit sent this e-mail out to all of its members recently:

We regret to announce that Mixwit will cease to exist at the end of the
year.The website and profiles will be turned off around Dec 27th and
all embedded widgets will stop playing before the end of December.

We’ve put a year of work into Mixwit so this choice wasn’t taken lightly. I
won’t go into the details of our situation but state simply that we
boldly marched into in a position best described as “between a rock and a
hard place.” We’re very grateful to be have been part of the mixtape
revival of ‘08 and are satisfied to be able to to bow out while things
are still good.

You guys are all amazing. It’s clear that all of you put a ton of time and
effort into your mixes. For me personally, I was looking forward to all of
the designs people created for their tapes. There was a lot of basic tapes
and many lovely photos, but the designs and artwork – WOW!

We’re very sorry that this has to end. We’re going to try to figure out
some way to archive the artwork and playlists, if for nothing at least
historic value. As for now, everything needs to be shut down by the end
of the year just to make sure we’ve got a clean start for 2009.

We’ll return early next year with a new company and new toys. Until
then, enjoy the holidays and please take good care of yourselves,
your families, and your friends =)

– Radley & Mike

In Pursuit of the Trivial will sadly miss Amy’s Monthly Mixtape and Trivial Music being fixtures on the site, but maybe the Mixwit people will find a way to make it happen in ’09 (or maybe another site will step in and fill the Online Mixtape void).

5. Tourfilter

You can find shows within a 2 to 4 hour radius on Ticketmaster or follow specific bands on MySpace music, but tourfilter gives you the opportunity to do both simultaneously. Choose from an expanding list of cities and the site will give you a more thorough listing of the upcoming acts in town than the aforementioned T-master. You can also choose a default city then tab bands (and possibly the bands tourfilter will suggest based on your tabbed bands) you want to watch out for so tourfilter will e-mail you if they post dates nearby. They also didn’t overlook the simplest of facts: links are provide to the various ticket buying web sites. Simple yet incredibly useful.

4. Miranda July’s promo web site for No One Belongs Here More Than You

The book turned out to be pretty good (very unique storytelling) but I bought it solely because of how cool July’s web site is. I absolutely aspire to take her simplistic, flash-based idea and utilize it for my own personal URL in ’09 (after I get some web design grad school pumped into me). She’s even updated it for the end of the year and the release of her paperbacks (keep clicking, you’ll see). July’s quirky virtual journey is a pretty good indicator of what you’re in store for should you read it, but either way the site is worth a quick visit.

3. Facebook

Sure the site has been around for awhile but it unleashed perhaps the biggest online debate of the year: Old or New Facebook? The Facebook redesign caused a large online backlash (resulting in retroactive changes) but now all users are in the New camp. The New gives you everything you used to have to work for with the Old but in a central location. The embarrassing pics of friends, latest relationship news, hilarious status updates and inappropriate wall-to-walls are now conveniently on your main page’s newsfeed. What more could you possibly ask from your social networking?

2. Joy TShirt

I’m a big fan of giving charity-benefiting gifts like TOMS shoes or Invisible Children bracelets. This is what Joy TShirt is at its core. The web site is a tshirt project where individuals buy shirts with hand-drawn pictures of other people on them and then submit their own photo for potential tshirt buyers. The shirts carry a global message of anti-racism and discrimination but then a percentage of all sales are given to a charity with related goals each month. The site itself however can be endlessly entertaining when browsing through all the tshirt profiles where you can meet individuals with interests like fixing grammatical errors, hamsters named Cindarella and hair gel.

1. USA Today’s Pop Candy

Disclaimer: Trivial Links would be largely impossible without some of the cool sites found via PopCandy (including tourfilter, Joy TShirt and Miranda July’s promo site). So even though it’s hard to claim a blog through USA Today finally hit it big in 2008, let’s see if I can justify it. In late 2007 I wanted to attend the Office Convention solely because Whitney Matheson (the site’s creator and author) was having a gathering where you could meet her and other Office fans. I told a few of my friends and the response was, “Who?” or “What?” Now I’m finding links on PopCandy sent in by friends before they tell me and if I mention reading PopCandy around the office even my supervisor (assumed in her mid 30s) admits to be an occasional reader. Add some appearances on VH1 countdowns by Matheson and it’s clear PopCandy reached a new level of popularity in 2008.

The End.

Others in serious consideration: Sports Guy’s World | http://www.daytrotter.com | illegalart.net | http://www.pdfonline.com

(Links today from the sites listed above, Wikipedia, TOMS, TIME and WashingtonPost.com)

Have an argument to make with the list? E-mail it.
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