Fractious Friday: Lists, Zeitgeists, and 2009 Hindsight

Like taxonomies, lists are an interesting construct for creating order, exploring structure, and aiding memory and discovery. So, it's no wonder that when days are short and news is slow, the web moves into a frenzy of year-end and new year's list-making.

The press, the blogosphere, the people you know--once the winter solstice hits, no one is exempt from the impulse. Then, by the time Epiphany rolls around (technically the twelfth day after Christmas), the list-mania abates and people go back to the office and the serious business of the new year. So, I'm running a little late here. But, with the Crunchies taking place tonight in San Francisco, to "celebrate the most compelling startups, internet and technology innovations of the year," it seems like a reasonable moment to take a last subjective look at some of the more interesting webbish lists I came across as the decade ended.

Two Colleagues: Daniel Raffel and Greg Cohn

On New Year's Eve, TechCrunch featured "From a Geek's Geek: Daniel Raffel's Favorite New Projects, Products and Features of 2009." Daniel's a geeky and opinionated product guy who's definitely got list juice. He does a fine job of identifying and classifying his interests: "games, geo services, HTML5, identity, mobile, music, social updates, and web development." OAuth WRAP to YQL, Playdar to PubSubHubbub, Foursquare to Square -- this is a list to bookmark and dig into.

On a more personal note, Greg Cohn's year end list looks at 29 Things that Inspired me in 2009. Greg's a biz dev and strategy guy -- his list ranges from TechStars to Tim O'Reilly to the best of the Twitter ecosystem. Like Daniel, Greg also gives a shout-out to Kickstarter, a platform for funding eclectic projects (that lets us all be micro-Medicis).

Three Zeitgeists: Google, Slideshare, and The Hype Machine

Google offers up the mother of all year-end zeitgeists (the word is German and means almost literally the spirit of the time). 2009 marks the ninth year-end Google Zeitgeist, taking a big look at search patterns, trends, and surprises.

This year, there are baby zeitgeists in a couple of interesting niches:

Slideshare Zeitgeist '09 explores the world of presentations and presenters in a compelling 20 slide presentation that's packed full of impactful data. YDN's own international developer evangelist, Christian Heilmann, was the top user-nominated presenter on Slideshare, with an impressive 97 presentations, and who knows how many lolcats per deck.

SlideShare Zeitgeist 2009
View more documents from Rashmi Sinha.

The Hype Machine "keeps track of what music bloggers write about" and shares the best of it with the rest of us. Hypem's Music Blog Zeitgeist 2009 features the best 50 artists and albums, and a compilation of the best songs of the past year as selected by the Hype Machine's registered users.

Two Classics: Jason Kottke and John Battelle

Jason Kottke has been blogging at since before before the word weblog morphed into blog. On Jan 6, he posted his sixth "best of" compilation of his favorite posts and the links that evoked them. Best of 2009 is wonderfully random and eclectic, and includes a post by Kevin Kelly on Amish Hackers, Sophie Blackall's whimsical illustrations based on the text of Craigslist's Missed Connections section, and an amazing CG video from 1980 called Vol Libre, and much, much more.

Over at his Searchblog, John Battelle has been doing annual predictions since 2004. Each new year's set of predictions is accompanied by a "how I did" recap of the previous year's forecast. For 2010, Battelle predicts "the beginning of the end of US dominance of the web" and Google's repositioning "as a software brand rather than as 'just a search engine'." Looking back to 2009, Battelle gives himself a 10.5 out of 14. Now I'm no expert grader, but I'm thinking that's a not too shabby B-.

Havi Hoffman
YDN Blog Editor

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