I know what you’re thinking—the web is just too darn big and fluid to pick a satisfying “best of.” And you’re right. But I’m going for it anyway.
My criteria of “best” includes: 1. Navigation and concept that doesn’t leave you wandering in the desert. 2. Bulletproof programming that doesn’t jam when you look at it crosseyed. And above all, 3. Content that makes you want to go there. Fun doesn’t hurt.
Many of the best sites have seamless functionality—they work so well we take them for granted. Amazon. IMDB. YouTube. Google. Netflix. They are also, generally speaking, looking to sell something. So, skipping subscription and over-the-top commercial sites for now, here’s my massively subjective choices:
TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design).
Possibly the best idea generator on the net. Short, important talks by prominent thinkers that open your brain.
Keep up on the latest news from Geekville.
All Things Digital.
The name says it all.
NASA Home and City
Flash-intensive universe-spanning science.
Positive citizenship, and fun too.
A daily update on ideas and products in art, design, culture and technology.
VIDEO AND FILM:
A surprisingly colorful, elegant way to see which films hit or missed in 2010.
The winner and still champion. A “simple” idea that gives you the critical mass on new games, books, films, etc.
One of the biggest collections of clips and behind-the-scenes videos on the web.
Vimeo is a classy, well-thought-out video site for creative minds. The image quality is great, and the content is generally more interesting (and less junky) than YouTube.
MODERN CHRISTIAN LIVING:
Despite my reluctance at anyone who calls themselves “relevant,” this is the journal of how young Christians live now.
The site of the International Arts Movement.
Related to the previous site. A Christian’s-eye-view of culture and creativity.
CREATIVITY AND DESIGN:
A blog featuring the best of design and typography.
Erudite, accomplished writing about design.
Deceptively simple, one of the most engaging and entertaining design sites on the web.
The site for fans who bleed stats from both ears.
A gossip-driven sports site for fans bored with box scores.
If Ebay is America’s yard sale, Etsy is a craft fair. This craft-centric marketplace is a one-stop shop for home decorations, handmade clothing and grownup toys.
MUSIC AND VIDEO:
Arcade Fire’s The Wilderness Downtown is one of the most innovative sites of last year. It takes technology and injects it with a dose of poetry and emotion.
The Spanish band Labuat’s graceful, interactive site that allows users to “paint to music.”
Pure cross-platform fun from a band that recalls a Japanese Dave Matthews (sort of).
YOU KNOW, FOR KIDS:
It’s a toss-up between Sesame Street or PBS Kids for the best play/education site. But they both spring from the same well.
Pandora and Grooveshark
Great sites to fatten up your musical taste.
INTERACTIVE SPOOKY STORYTELLING:
There’s almost no way to describe the full effect without seeing it, which is what you expect from an innovative web site.
FEEL GOOD SITE:
1000 Awesome Things
What’s not to like?