Let’s face it. You can spend hours surfing the web and never once come across a website worthy of your time. While this mindless clicking of the mouse can be fun for those hoping to kill some time until the next episode of “The Office there are actually websites out there offering something of substance. Useful, entertaining, informational and eye-catching, the following are some of the best websites of 2008. Go ahead and explore, but keep your bookmark tab handy. You’ll definitely not want to let these links wither into the ether.
As search engines go, you can’t beat Google. Now you can personalize your Google experience by adding additional toolbar and/or desktop products such as Google Earth for those of us who yearn to explore satellite images and distant galaxies from the comfort of our computer chair, Google Alerts if your research is a never ending quest for information, and Google Mobile when inquiring minds just want to know everything all the time, as long as you have your cell phone in tow.
If you’re like me and a bunch of links on screen tends to make your eyes glaze over, searchme.com now puts your search into the visual realm. See what you seek. Their site brings up relevant web pages in glorious, colorful images. Bear in mind, they’re still in beta but I doubt it will be for long.
While we’re on the subject of visuals, here’s another way to browse the web. Download Cooliris to your browser and you can’t help murmuring “sweet” multiple times over. Their “3D Wall” lets you browse thousands of sites with a speed faster than you can blink. Give yourself a treat and download CoolPreviews while you’re at it. You can preview links without ever having to leave the web page you’re on. Sweet.
Massive amounts of music and video with the ability to buy and download or not, if you prefer to listen to streaming music. There’s not many song titles they’ don’t have. A plus is their social networking and playlist sharing. Best part? It’s free.
Movie maniacs and TV junkies, the world has just become your oyster. Imagine a chance hurricane or freak thunderbolt destroying the only thing worthwhile in your home: your TV recording unit, otherwise known as DVR or Tivo. Let Hulu.com ride to the rescue. You’ll never skip your favorite TV episode again. Watch it free, along with any other movies you might have missed in the last 50 years. Pretty awesome.
Okay, so it’s not much to look at since they haven’t changed the format of the site since the dinosaur age. Craigslist.org is still the number one Internet classified list in, dare I say, the world. They have local classifieds in over 550 cities and over 50 countries worldwide with over 50 million users a month. In addition, it’s typically free to use. Get yourself a feedreader, subscribe to your city’s writing gigs and let the joy begin.
If you’re a writer, Wikipedia is on your must have list of bookmarks. A continually updated encyclopedia and reference source, the site can be researched and edited in more than 260 languages across the globe. The articles are volunteer contributed so cross reference your facts and be sure to read Researching with Wikipedia to understand how best to conduct your research across multiple sources.
There are other, significant websites that have brought a sparkle or two to the eye in 2008:
• AskEJean.com and Helium.com (of course!)
The web continues to bring about the latest and the brightest, opening up avenues in technology, social networking and innovations not available to us in 2007. It’s a great, worldwide network we live in. Let’s enjoy it even more in 2009.