We are web geeks. We have been since we needed a 20-foot phone cord to plug in our late-’80s modem and log onto the local BBS. We had email addresses before there were email addresses. We used “under construction” icons ironically. We watched the web bloom in its infancy, lived and worked through its heyday with our heads down (even at the ubiquitous dot-com parties, though that might have been too many free dot-cocktails). We laughed at the dancing baby. We watched the word “blog” be entered into the dictionary. (Hell, at a web party we even met the guy at Oxford who entered it.) We love love love the web, all nine zillion sites. However, we love some more than others.
The criteria for nomination and selection were simple: these are the sites we enjoyed the most in the past year, sites that impressed us with their stories, or how quickly they became indispensable in our daily surfing. Some have been around forever, and one is only a week old. But all of them share a sense of excellence, and all contribute something great to the internet. (As did our 2004 Winners.) We hope you enjoy them as much as we have.
Congratulations to this year’s winners—you made our web great.
Favorite Sources to Poach From for Our Headlines
We rise at six every morning to assemble our headlines, and these are the sites we hit first. Irreverent, bizarre, eclectic, insightful—all four have led us to new interests, interesting stories, and the best memes on the internet. Their creators are web legends; we salute them.
Favorite Eagle-Eyed Review of New York Politics
In San Juan they say there are two sports: baseball and politics. In New York you’d probably want to add restaurants and navel-gazing, but it’s local politics are where the sweat, knives, and gristle really shine. Ben Smith’s Politicker gets down in the mud and keeps score.
» The Politicker
Favorite Mp3 Blog: Single Topic
Many of the best mp3 blogs combine good picks chosen with a theme in mind, plus scholarly ambition and zinging prose. Prewar Blues has all three, and we regularly get schooled by the wonderful selections. (And we don’t even like prewar blues all that much!)
» Prewar Blues
Favorite Place to Watch the Ebb and Flow of New York Real Estate
There’s talk of a real-estate crash in New York, and if it happens, we’ll be watching the burn on Curbed. With a tiny dash of gossip and a healthy dose of reality, Curbed has the scoop on the many ways our boroughs zone, grow, rezone, grow, rezone…
Favorite Reflection of Our Own Obsessions
How can a site that’s barely a week old win an award? Because we’re web geeks first, cheeseburger geeks second, and along has come a site to whet our appetites. Brought to you by the fine people behind Sliceny.com, A Hamburger Today promises to be an entertaining and informative paean to meat between two buns—and if they don’t stick to their promise, we’ll get them banned from Shake Shack for life.
» A Hamburger Today
Favorite Online Newspaper Redesign
The International Herald Tribune has gone big screen. The Los Angeles Times has fixed its nav bar and gone crazy below the fold. The New York Times changed some buttons, left-aligned article photos, tossed in disorienting rollovers, and still won’t tell you if a home-page-linked feature will pop up in your face. Changes are afoot in online newspapers! But with all the rejiggering, we have to hand it to Washington Post: the systems are consistent, the aesthetic is easy to read, and the front page looks swell. Now if they could only poach Kristof and his hidden camera…
» The Washington Post
Favorite Way to Feel Useless
Keep up with this digest on the renovation of an 1870s brownstone in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn, and you’ll be glad there are people brave enough to do this kind of thing, and smart enough to document every step of the way. A fascinating journey through plaster and floorboards.
» Brownstoner’s Renovation Blog
Favorite Way to Locate a Restaurant When You’re Dining With Allergies
Current studies say that as many as one in 133 people have celiac disease, a condition that prevents them from digesting the gluten found in many grains—and thus, many foods that seem deliciously harmless. So while many of us can dive right into the breadbasket at dinner, celiacs have to watch what they eat, or suffer severe intestinal consequences. The Celiac Chicks say they’re here to strike menu fear from celiac guts everywhere. We say Bravo! as we follow these do-gooders as they scout the markets and restaurants of New York—and beyond!—in search of safe foodstuffs for their special ilk.
» Celiac Chicks
Favorite Mp3 Blog: Hot Singles
You love hip-hop. We love hip-hip. And everyone wants the hot single before it’s being discussed at the conference table. Lemon-Red keeps you on the tip.
Favorite Way to Learn How to Cook at the Computer
If ever you’ve wanted to become a better chef, A La Carte is the place to learn how. With recipes, cooking techniques, thoughts on dining, and insider tips from the cooking trade, A La Carte is the de rigueur resource for culinary learning. If only the Cook’s Illustrated site dropped its subscription-only ways, it might have a shot at usurping A La Carte.
Actually, no, no it wouldn’t.
» A La Carte
Favorite Tool for Handling Projects
You are the best! You will be famous for your art! That project you’re working on will take the world by storm! But only if you’re organized! We have all kinds of systems and gee-gaws to keep TMN chugging, but none as powerful, slick, and smart as Basecamp.
Favorite Mp3 Blog: Rock/Pop/Etc.
Visit any day of the week and you’ll be treated to a little bit of George Jones, a hunk of rare Abba, a Joy Division bootleg, or perhaps something or other remixed that you absolutely won’t see anywhere else. At Spoilt Victorian Child every post is a delight, helping you rediscover something you never listened to close enough before, or opening the doors to something you could imagine listening to forever. We consider ourselves spoiled for all their good works.
» Spoilt Victorian Child
Favorite Time Waster
Scrolling through Overheard in New York is a stroll through the eavesdropped conversations from our sidewalks and trains. And it’s a bizarre, hilarious, and troubling tour of the city’s inner thoughts.
» Overheard in New York
Favorite Site for Tiny Ways to Improve Our Systems
You don’t know which remote you’re supposed to aim at which part of your stereo, you have no clue where you put the phone number you snagged last weekend, and you can’t remember how to log in to your Gmail. Thankfully, Lifehacker is here. With little ways to make your daily existence a little easier, they offer helpful tips on software, organization methods, efficiency tools, and more. Just wait till the day they do a post on how to turn a turkey carcass into a coffee table—and actually make you want to try it too.
Favorite Treatment of the Classical Musical World as Vital Sport
Erudite, widely read and passionately listened, and argumentative until the last glass is broken—it’s how we’d love to describe ourselves, but it’s better fit for A.C. Douglas who writes Sounds & Fury, a blog that makes the classical music world seem like a soap opera with better background music. Anthony Tommasini should take self-defense classes.
» Sounds & Fury
Favorite Writing About Design
We admitted that we’re web geeks; well, before we were web geeks, we were news geeks, and in particular, newspaper geeks. The only thing better than reading a paper at the end of the day with our feet up is reading a paper at the end of the day with our feet up and a bottle of Lagavulin on the table. Newspapers are dying? Over our dead bodies, and only when people like Mark Friesen at Newsdesigner stop publishing thoughtful talk about the business.
Favorite Way to Share Mp3s
The perfect method of sharing, ahem, “large files,” You Send It lets you upload to their server for free, and spits out a link to whomever you please for their downloading pleasure. All files and links are dead in seven days, which means no more out-of-control bandwidth on your own precious web space, and no suspicious once-overs from the authorities.
» You Send It
Favorite Way to Locate a Place to Meet for a Drink in New York
When charged with a pack of thirsty friends and the job of finding a place to serve them, New York magazine’s searchable bar database will never leave you unquenched. Or, you know, drunk. With options to search by bar name, type of scene, and neighborhood, if you can’t find what you’re looking for here, it’s time to give up the sauce.
» New York Magazine’s Bar Finder
Favorite Celebration of a Scene
One amazing aspect of the web is how people around the world can connect, swap stories, share interests [insert Circuits section circa ‘98 blather here]. But seriously, when a grassroots arts movement pushes its boundaries creatively and globally through a website? That’s cool.
» Wooster Collective: A Celebration of Street Art
Favorite Online Role Playing Game That Doesn’t Have a Yearly Convention
1) You have only a few hours each week for leisure. 2) You have a computer. 3) You have an internet connection. Then one day you discover The Kingdom of Loathing, and one of those three things must be eliminated.
» Kingdom of Loathing
Favorite Blogs to Feel Enriched By
Someone had to do it, and no offense to Nick Denton (we love your apartment!) or Jason Calacanis (we know you’re a ninja!) or the Gothamist crew (we’re waiting for Baghdadist!), but a weblog network of smart, cultural titles was due. ArtsJournal filled the gap with a stable of great titles, and since then we’ve enjoyed their high level of commentary and low level of snark.
» Arts Journal Blogs
Favorite Mp3 Blog: Commitment to the Religion
Never mind that he regularly posts a huge variety of great songs, that he runs all sorts of features on his site to explore music, that he interviews fellow mp3 bloggers, that he rants and raves like Ryan Adams on a voicemail, that he seems to have heard every song possible and loved every one—he also waves the community’s banner like crazy. We suspect he’s insane. We gave him an award last year, and his site has become so considerably better, we’re doing it again. God bless him.
» The Tofu Hut