It seems like just yesterday I logged on to the World Wide Web for the first time (yes, I’m that old), with its dynamic HTML-based pages rising head and shoulders above all the other Internet protocols out there like Gopher, Telnet and Lynx. It was the early ’90s, and there was a mini-battle going on over which standard would triumph.
With its use of images, sounds and dynamic content, it was fairly obvious that HTML — a common language that could be understood by all computers through browser software; you basically had a choice between Netscape and Internet Explorer — would win the day.
Now the Webby Awards, presented by the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences, are in their 11 th year. The time has certainly flown by.
Now there are more than 70 categories in the Webby Awards, from A to Y, Activisim to Youth, with five nominees in each. The academy picks the winner, while members of the public are allowed to cast votes for their own favourites.
There are far too many sites to list in one column, so my advice is to got to www.webbyawards.com, find categories that appeal to your interests, and check out some new and interesting websites.
I have a few of my own favourites.
www.bookglutton.com — I have about 30 favourite books that I read over and over again, occasionally adding a title to the collection, but generally I have no idea what to buy or check out of the library. Book Glutton has lots of public domain books available, and you can scope out reading groups by typing in the name of a book you like and asking for advice on your next read.
http://del.icio.us/ — A referral site like Digg or Reddit, but with a more selective group of readers referencing articles and web pages.
www.stumbleupon.com — I downloaded the StumbleUpon toolbar to Firefox, and whenever I’m bored I can just press the button to get a random, recommended site in one of my pre-selected areas of interest. Sometimes an amazing photo will pop up, or a how-to guide for a home project. Also, if you stumble on any cool or interesting websites you can just click on the I Like It tab to recommend it to others.
www.mathmovesu.com — I’m a wannabe math geek that barely passed Grade 11 but would love another shot at it. This site does the impossible and makes math fun AND relevant.
www.electrocity.co.nz — This game is like The Sims, where power generation and use is the biggest limiting factor.
www.kongregate.com — Awesome and free online games, of a surprisingly high quality. I got somewhat sucked into an interesting role playing game called Sonny.
www.consumerreports.org — More free information than ever is available in this site, where experts test and rate a full gamut of products. It’s always a good idea to consult Consumer Reports before making any major purchases to find out how your purchase is rated, if any problems have been reported or if any recalls are underway.
www.nowplayit.com — I’m a decent guitar player (20 years later), but I know I still have a lot to learn. NowPlayIt (www.nowplayit.com) features interactive guitar instruction from actual musicians. Kind of works like Guitar Hero, where you watch a music video and animated chord boxes pop up on the screen.
www.wired.com — I don’t visit Wired as much as I used to since they changed their format to focus less on the technology and more on its impact on culture, but it’s still one of the best sites out there for decoding our tech-driven culture.
www.howstuffworks.com — I’ve mentioned this site about a gazillion times by now, but with the recent work they’ve done to create new videos and podcasts it deserves another mention. Why this website hasn’t become a television show by now is a complete mystery.
http://radio3.cbc.ca — Grampa Simpson said it best: “I used to be ‘with it’. Then they changed what ‘it’ was. Now what I’m with isn’t ‘it’, and what’s ‘it’ seems weird and scary to me. It’ll happen to you.” I took Grampa’s warning to heart, and I think I spend more time than the average person trying to stay current with music — even if I do feel Rush is one of the greatest bands in history that doesn’t mean I spend all my time listening to Classic Rock stations, or don’t listen to all the new stuff coming out. CBC Radio 3, nominated in the Radio category, is one way I stay current, as well as Pitchfork Media (www.pitchforkmedia.com), Indie 103.1 (www.indie1031.fm), and 3WK Internet Radio (www.3wk.com).
Website of the Week: Ever get the feeling you’ve seen a movie trailer before? Like those trailers for romantic comedies that start out with a narrator saying something like “Billy thought he had the perfect life… until one day he met Rachel. His perfect life was about to get turned upside down…” Usually the someone cues K.C. and the Sunshine Band’s “Walking on Sunshine” at this point, letting you know instantly that you’re in for a light-hearted romp. Sickening.
But while movie trailers are predictable, the recent comparison between the original Batman trailer, starring Michael Keaton and Jack Nicholson, and the new Dark Knight (Batman Begins sequel) trailer, is ridiculous. Check the comparison at www.collegehumor.com/video:1813453.