50 Best Websites 2009

Here is the list of 50 Best website of 2009 on the basis of their concept, User Interface and the Simplicity...

1.) Flickr: Computers don't handle visual imagery with the same native ease with which they parse text or crunch numbers. Flickr was the first site to solve this problem with something called collaborative tagging. The idea is that if everyone is allowed to tag everyone else's uploaded photos, then a rough-and-ready categorization will naturally emerge from the wisdom of the crowd.
2.) California Coastline: A man, a helicopter and a digital camera: those three elements combine to create one of the most engrossing sites on the Web.
3.) Delicious: Delicious (formerly del.icio.us) started out as a kind of Flickr for bookmarks (it's no coincidence; Flickr and Delicious are both owned by Yahoo!) but is now more useful as a search-engine hack.
4.) Metafilter: There are lots of collaborative voting and comment sites out there — Digg, Reddit, StumbleUpon — but there is only one worth joining, even if it does cost $5: Metafilter, or "MeFi" for those in the know.
5.) Popurls: The popurls (it rhymes with popular) cracked the code by pulling together up-to-the-moment headlines from the biggest and most popular news and opinion sites, blogs and vlogs onto one giant Web page for you to graze through. There's nothing to remember to check or install. It's the perfect homepage.
6.) Twitter: "The one thing you can say for certain about Twitter is that it makes a terrible first impression," wrote Steven Johnson in his TIME cover story on the micro-blogging site, and it's true: you'll either love it or hate it. Haters maintain that nothing worth saying can be said in 140 characters.
7.) Skype: With cell-phone minutes being so cheap, Luddites wonder what the big deal is about making phone calls over the Internet — or as geeks call it, VoIP, short for "voice over Internet protocol." The answer is that VoIP has the power to turn an Internet connection into a videophone.
8.) Boing Boing: Boing Boing functions as a proxy for the entire aesthetic of the Web. It's a deliberately eclectic mix of tech commentary, sci-fiction nerd-outs, fringe culture, gadget porn and serious news items. It is, according to its own description, a "directory of wonderful things."
9.) Academic Earth: Collection of enormous number of video lectures all over across the world. MIT was the first university to heed the edupunk call: it started posting syllabi, course notes and videotaped lectures on ocw.mit.edu back in 2001.
10.) OpenTable.com: OpenTable does one (seemingly trivial) thing: help you make a restaurant reservation. But it does it so well that you'll wonder how you ever lived without the site. What kind of food would you like? When do you want to sit down? Here are your options; click to reserve. That's it. Done. On to the next chore. If only everything on the Web was this easy.
11.) Google: A decade after its birth, Google has achieved such ubiquity that it's easier to say what it isn't than what it is. But let's try to define it anyway: Google is search, e-mail, telephony and a full suite of Web-based G-ware (with a word processor, spreadsheet application, calendar and contacts manager). But wait — there's more! Google sub-brands such as Blogger, Picasa and SketchUp could argue their way onto any best-of-the-Web list on their own merits. Depending on your point of view, the company's many tentacles make Google the best thing since dancing babies or our future alien overlord. The only viable alternative to Google's search technology is Microsoft's just-released Bing.
12.) YouTube: Another indispensable site owned by the Google borg, though the bulk of its content — cute cats, jiggling body parts and stupid human tricks — is plenty dispensable.
13.) Wolfram|Alpha: A long, long time ago, in a galaxy not so far away, Google was just two grad students at Stanford with a smart idea for search technology. Today's search whiz kid is Stephen Wolfram, one of the biggest brains on the planet — and he's got the new idea. Wolfram has developed a search engine that can actually understand your questions and try to figure out answers.
14.) Hulu: Determined not to let what happened to the music industry happen to Hollywood, NBC and Fox teamed up to finance a site that gives Webizens what they want: free TV and movies, streamed in high quality, on demand. (Shrewdly, the networks have kept their logos, and their legacy issues, off the site.) Think of it as a TiVo subscription without the set-top box or monthly bill. If it aired recently on NBC, ABC or Fox, you'll probably find it archived on Hulu. For CBS, you'll have to switch over to TV.com, a lame Hulu clone.
15.) Vimeo: There are gems just waiting to be discovered on YouTube, (search "althea and donna" for one of millions of examples). But if you'd rather find Kanye West uploading his stuff — in high definition, no less — then search for the user name "kwest" on Vimeo.
16.) Fora TV: Whoever said television makes you stupid never saw Fora TV. Every day the site's programmers upload clips of scientists, authors, intellectuals, captains of industry and world leaders standing up and laying out what they think they know.
17.) CraigLook: Craigslist is on everyone's short list for most useful website ever, but at this point, it's embarrassingly retro. The Craigslist logo? A peace sign. The user interface? Text-based. The search function? A primitive command line. Craiglook remedies those things by adding all the Web 2.0 bells and whistles we've come to expect to Craig's underlying listings data. It's not an alternative to Craigslist — it's a remix.
18.) Shop Goodwill: Now that everyone knows about eBay, the auction site is not the bargain hunter's paradise that it used to be. On eBay you always find what you're looking for, but so does everyone else — and that drives prices up.
19.) Amazon: Amazon is a virtual store with infinite shelf space. Its sheer size makes it the default market maker for just about every product sold online, and thus it sets the prices to beat. Text a UPC code (that string of numbers next to the bar code) to "AMAZON" and you can even check a price when you're out in the real world and think you've spotted a bargain.
20.) Kayak: Which travel site should you turn to when booking plane tickets: a) Travelocity, b) Expedia or c) Orbitz? The answer is d) All of the above — by using Kayak, a meta-search site for travelers. Kayak scours more than 100 search engines in order to find the lowest possible price.
21.) Netflix: If you have a DVD player, odds are you already know about Netflix's excellent movies-by-mail service. Netflix is morphing into a similarly excellent streaming-video service, but that's no reason to forget the mailman's name.
22.) Etsy: Etsy is the long-haired, Birkenstocked love child of Amazon and eBay. It's a crafts-only marketplace oozing with personality — imagine if Martha Stewart were reincarnated as Ani DiFranco and you get the gist. It's the go-to site for handmade fashion, furniture, toys and housewares.
23.) PropertyShrak.com: In geek-speak "information asymmetry" is a problem that crops up, for example, when you buy a house. The seller knows more about the house than the buyer and thus has an unfair advantage in the deal — though perhaps not for long. PropertyShark.com is a free service that culls an incredible amount of data for houses in the big, coastal population centers, plus Texas.
24.) Redfin: Disintermediation — another SAT word whizzing around the Web — means removing the middleman, and that's the strategy of real estate site Redfin, which aims to do to Realtors what travel sites have done to travel agents: eradicate them. Redfin provides the same information that real estate agents have in their computers, like price history, pictures and comparables.
25.) Wikipedia: In 2004, the editor of the Encyclopedia Britannica wrote an article called "The Faith-Based Encyclopedia" in which he compared Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia that anyone can update and edit, to a public toilet. The following year the world's most distinguished scientific journal, Nature, decided to compare Wikipedia and Britannica in a blind taste test. Nature's conclusion? That Wikipedia and Britannicaare roughly equal when it comes to accuracy. That finding is disputed by Britannica. Naturestands by its story. And Wikipedia, of course, documents Britannica's beef with Nature in a mind-numbingly complete wiki entry.
26.) Internet Archive: Ever wonder what TIME.com looked like way back in 1998? Or what eBay looked like on the day of its birth? Well, you can travel back in time and find out using Internet Archive. The site's mission is to back up the Internet — the whole damn thing. Right now it has 3 petabytes of information in its servers (that's 85 billion Web pages, or 10 quadrillion [10 to the power of 15] ones and zeros). That's nowhere near a googol (10 to the power of 100), but it is the equivalent of 1.21 jiggawatts.
27.) Kiva: Peer-to-peer micro-lending, anyone? Kiva links "micro-bankers" like you and me with screened "micro-preneurs" in the developing world (and now even in the U.S.). You can lend as little as $25 in capital to the Kiva applicant of your choice. When the money is paid back, you can withdraw your original investment, donate it to Kiva or lend it to another needy applicant. Kiva claims a 1% default rate and a 97% on-time repayment rate, which means that, right now at least, your money is safer in the hands of the world's poor than in your 401(k). Of course, Kiva is a charity, not a broker, so you don't earn any interest.
28.) ConsumerSearch: There's no shortage of opinions on the Web — in fact, there's a terrible surplus. ConsumerSearch does the best job of organizing and cataloging all those voices. It's not a product-review site per se but a curated roundup of the most qualified reviewers — with a summary of the consensus opinion and links in case you want to dig deeper. It's definitely worth stopping by before you make a purchase.
29.) Metacritic: Heard an album or seen a movie recently that you loved so much that you couldn't stop talking about it? Try looking it up on Metacritic and reading all its reviews, good and bad. Metacritic archives the columns of people like Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times, Anthony Lane of the New Yorker and, yes, even national treasure Richard Corliss of TIME. A good, professionally written review shines a ray of light onto the mystery of great art, but reading a dozen in one gulp? Positively illuminating!
30.) Pollster: One of the welcome developments of the 2008 U.S. presidential election was the emergence of Nate Silver, a baseball statistician who applied his techniques to analyzing the avalanche of election poll data on his website FiveThirtyEight. Time and again, Silver's predictions proved more accurate than those of "experts" because of his methodology (he aggregated all the polls, weighting them according to their individual accuracy to create his special poll of polls). Pollster also aggregates this data, but it has a Web interface that allows you to remix it on the fly. Is there a poll you don't trust? Throw it out! Want a different smoothing algorithm? Change it! How much difference does it even make? Magnify the X and Y axes with a mouse-click and find out. Pollster supplies all the data that a budding Nate Silver could ever need.
31.) Facebook: If you've been avoiding Facebook because you're concerned about privacy issues or worried you'll lose your life to social networking, you've already spent too much time thinking about this behemoth of a site. Although it's desperate to be more, Facebook is really just a phone book. It's where your acquaintances, friends, friends of friends and people you've met only a couple of times go when they need to find your e-mail address. While they're looking at your page, they'll be reminded of what you look like, your dog's name and your hometown — the kind of stuff that makes small talk easier. So go create a page, upload a picture and provide answers to questions you'd be comfortable revealing to a new acquaintance. Then "friend" the people you know. It's easy, takes a minute, and frees you to stop obsessing about the necessity of Facebook.
32.) Pandora and Last.fm: Pandora and Last.fm are two near twin radio-killer applications. You seed the online players with your all-time favorite song — or whatever you're in the mood to listen to — and a digital DJ creates a list of other songs you might like and starts streaming them through your speakers. It's both an amazing way to discover new favorites and a set-and-forget way to get a soundtrack that fits your current state of mind. And if you hear something you don't like, both sites have a fast-forward button that will skip you to the next song in the queue as well as a nuke button that will banish a hated song from your listening life.
33.) Musicovery: Musicovery is a music-streaming site with a mood-ring interface that works like a soundboard for adjusting your robot DJ's musical taste. Sliders dial the mood from dark to positive and the tempo from fast to slow, while boxes allow you to check genres, including everything from funk to classical. The interface is so radically different from Pandora and Last.fm that it seems like it was beamed from an ultra-sophisticated, über-arty future utopia.
34.) Spotify: The holy grail of online music is what's known as a "celestial jukebox": an archive of every album in the world, there just for the listening. Think iTunes without the 99-cent song fee. The celestial jukebox is no pipe dream; it's here now. Spotify will stream virtually anything you want and pay the royalties for you.
35.) Supercook: The old way of cooking at home included figuring out what you wanted to eat, looking up the recipe in a cookbook, buying the ingredients and whipping the meal up. Here's the Supercook way: Open your fridge and pantry, type the ingredients you have into the site's search bar and stand back. Supercook will look through its database of 300,000-plus recipes and spit out the ones that match. The result? You can start cooking right away, using food that would otherwise spoil. It's a painless alternative to traditional menu-planning and a great way to find new recipes and economize at the same time.
36.) Yelp: Yelp proves that you can't please everybody, as even the best places may have a scathing review from a disgruntled writer. Still, a quick scan through a dozen or so Yelp reviews offers a pretty good idea of what to expect.
37.) Visuwords: Visuwords is a thesaurus reimagined as a toy. It asks you to think of a word and then turns that word into a universe of bouncing, rotating, vibrating meaning by pulling related words into orbit around it. The words careen off one another like balls on a billiard table until they settle down, at which point you can set them in motion again — or choose a new word. It's highly addictive, especially for English majors.
38.) CouchSurfing: The glaring limitation of most social networks is that by the end of the day, you're still staring at a computer screen. Have you really made friends if you've never actually spent time with them? CouchSurfing is different because it's only incidentally a social network. At the heart of its community is a social bargain: host a couch surfer as he or she backpacks through your country, and another couch surfer will host you. For the young and intrepid, CouchSurfing is a way to travel cheaply, gain life experience and make friends the old-fashioned way: face to face.
39.) BabyNameWizard.com: Ever wonder why there were 10 girls in your class named Erin? BabyNameWizard.com's NameVoyager uses data from the Social Security Administration to give you the answer. NameVoyager is for new mommies and daddies who are eager to give Junior a name to remember. (Junior, by the way, is a name that spiked in popularity around 1920, crashed to earth and is now slowly returning to fashion.) But the real fun is entering the names of your friends to see what it reveals about them — or, more accurately, their parents.
40.) Mint: What if your checkbook kept track of all your bank and investment accounts, analyzed your spending habits, calculated a budget and made savings suggestions that were actually helpful? Well, then your checkbook would be Mint, a free Web-based service that (with your permission) takes your information from banks, brokerages and credit-card companies and collates it into a single, easy-to-manipulate ledger. Mint is powerful enough to handle all but the most complicated of portfolios yet intuitive and flexible enough to — believe it or not — make home-accounting chores kind of fun.
41.) TripIt: Most serious travelers carry a folder with printouts of their flight, car and restaurant reservations. With TripIt, you can simply forward all that information to plans@tripit.com, and the website's "itinerator" does the rest. Everything is organized in one place, and the itinerator will fetch weather forecasts and maps, so you'll be totally prepared.
42.) AardVark: Aardvark is a new kind of search engine that lets you ask friends and friends of friends a question — e.g., What websites should be on TIME.com's "50 Best" list? — without spamming your entire e-mail list. You have to sign up, and it works best if you're already on Facebook and use an instant-messaging service like Gchat or AIM, but once you're on, you'll find it indispensable for answering those questions that only your fellow humans can answer.
43.) drop.io: The problem with working at home is that the files you need are inevitably on your work computer. You can e-mail yourself the necessary files or carry a USB drive back and forth, but drop.io is a more elegant solution: a private file-sharing service where you can stuff your stuff. There's nothing to learn, just open drop.io, select the files you want to take with you, and when you arrive home — or anywhere with a Web connection — there they will be. It's a great way to share a lot of data with other people too: just upload your files and then e-mail or text people the URL "key." There are tons of other features for working with groups, but you don't have to learn about them to start using the service.
44.) Issuu: When magazine lovers get nostalgic about print, they cite the feel of flipping pages, the shock of seeing an amazing layout and the physicality of being able to hold something in your hands. Maybe a gadget like Amazon's Kindle can compete with the old-fashioned ink-on-paper experience, but for our money — which, in this instance, is zero dollars — we'll take Issuu, an online newsstand with infinite shelf space, hundreds of interesting micro-publishing projects and a slick online reader. Spending time browsing through the titles that are archived on the site comes so close to the feel of the actual thing that you might forget you're in a magazine matrix.
45.) PhotoSynth: In the history of photography, the leap from film to digital was a breakthrough as profound as the move from black-and-white to color. Photosynth is the first photo site that really capitalizes on that shift, with a new way to look at pictures. Instead of arranging photos in a traditional album, the site finds relationships among pictures and digitally composites them to create an immersive 3-D photo environment called a "synth." The best synths — like this one pieced together from the Apollo moon-landing shots — look like David Hockney himself collaged the pictures.
46.) OMGPOP: Play Tetris and Scrabble — sorry, "Blockies" and "Letterblox" — with friends or strangers right in your browser window. OMGPOP is like an arcade where you never run out of quarters or people to play with. It's a highly addictive waste of time, even if the games are just copyright rip-offs of old faves.
47.) WorldWildTelescope: Like Google Earth for the heavens, WWT aggregates terabytes of astronomical data from the world's biggest telescopes to create a single virtual scope that anyone can look through. WWT is not a model of the known universe, but rather a centralized repository for just about everything known about the universe. The idea is to democratize the science of astronomy with a single tool that can be used by students and scientists. Who knows, when everyone has access to the same data, maybe the next big discovery in astronomy will be made by an amateur? There are hundreds of terabytes of digitized sky — enough data for everyone.
48.) Fonolo: "Press one for English." Here's a better idea: use Fonolo. It makes the call to that large, impersonal corporation, presses the right buttons and stays on hold for you until a human comes on the line. Then your phone rings and voilà, you can talk to a live person about your account. Fonolo even gives you the option to record your conversation as an MP3, just in case your chat with customer support becomes an argument. Is this for real? Totally! How does it know what you want it to accomplish? Fonolo shows you a visual map of the phone trees of various big companies and allows you to pick your point of entry. A computer does the rest.
49.) Get High Now: This is probably not what you think (there is no website for that, yet). Get High Now is a science site disguised as mind-expansion. There are 40 audio and visual illusions (or, if you must, "hallucinations") to be experienced and, after reading about the brain science that explains them, understood. Risset rhythms seem to get faster and faster, yet not if you time them by tapping your foot. Shepard tones get higher and higher (or lower and lower) yet never change key. Binaural beats and theta-wave synchronizations make you feel different — and you're not just imagining things; the changes they induce can be seen with fMRI. And then there's the highly intoxicating chronosynclastic infundibulum, which remains a mystery to science.
50.) Know Your Meme: If you've ever been stung by the word newbie, then this is the vlog for you. Every other week or so, "researchers" from the thoroughly tongue-in-cheek Rocketboom Institute for Internet Studies explain what's funny on the Web and why — so you can be 1337 and have a life too.


Post a Comment