Sunday, December 28, 2008

The 'Best of...' collection

Using Social Media tools I feel I'm better equipped to analyse my web activity, preferences and what I have enjoyed in 2008. I've participated in a lot of discussion and interacted with intelligent people and communities that I feel have educated and made me wiser. It's normal for this time of year to present 'Best of...' features, I have decided to participate in the trend and summarise what has been good to me. So here goes -

Starting with the music that I have enjoyed and been able to track better due to my migration from typical radio stations to listen almost solely to I have my iTunes, Windows Media Player
and Hype Machine profile configured so that they are all tracked through the site. This provides a clear picture of my musical preference and what I have rinsed.

The Top Tracks analysis for the year shows that The Strokes What Ever Happened was the song that got the most airplay. It was through that I was introduced to The Strokes, having missed the original buzz I really got into the sound this year. That wasn't the case with the Black Kids who feature several times at the top of the most played tracks. It was through Jo Whiley where I first heard about them and having downloaded their teaser album early in the year it remained a solid listening experience. The same with Glasvegas who were also brought to my attention by Jo Whiley, I have their album in the car and feel that Geraldine would be a lot higher played were that taken into consideration.

The rest of the top fifteen are made up of songs that I consider to be anthems, with the exception of Albeit Mach Frei. Due to the related artist playlist and a limited amount of Libertines tracks this received a lot of play which is inflated. I noticed over the last few months though that more Libertines and Babyshambles tracks are being played now which is better. There were some great bands breaking through this year that don't feature here, I rate MGMT and Vampire Weekend as two bands that I really enjoyed listening to considerably. As with Glasvegas they were rinsed mainly on car journeys!

Top Artists shows that listening to the Arctic Monkeys has built them up an impressive margin of plays over the rest of the artists. This is likely to continue into 2009, especially with the much anticipated third album coming soon. Panic at the Disco for some reason I find is the soundtrack to my relationship, the songs featured heavily on my MySpace profile and also were popular when I met my partner. What I like most about The Kooks is the lead singer Luke Pritchard's voice as he has a unique sound that I find appealing. Oasis, Razorlight and Fall Out Boy I feel will always feature highly in top artists mainly due to their impressive back catalogue. I expect them to be in and around the top five positions next year as well.

Plenty of other well known names appearing at the top, The Strokes and Black Kids I mentioned earlier but another band really getting my attention this year was Kings of Leon. I have really enjoyed their music and have been listening to their back catalogue these last few weeks. MGMT and Vampire Weekend I mentioned above as not featuring in the top tracks but here the same can be said for Crystal Castles that I played frequently during car journeys.

I would say that this is an accurate representation of my music preference and recommend anyone that enjoys music to sign up to Which leads this post onto the next topic which is websites. Recently I installed the Wakoopa plugin which monitors my online activity and the sites that I frequently visit but I am going to ignore that for the time being and instead my top ten websites are going to be based on preference for the year -


10. Disqus -
Disqus, pronounced "discuss", is a service and tool for web comments and discussions. The Disqus comment system can be plugged into any website, blog, or application. Disqus makes commenting easier and more interactive, while connecting websites and commenters across a thriving discussion community. [Source]
Those that contribute to my blog will know that I have been using the Disqus plugin for a while now. I rate the global comment system highly as it's easy to integrate and connects conversation across the Internet. Recently they have integrated with Facebook Connect which will help site owners by offering another channel for activity and distribution.

9. Digg -
Digg is a place for people to discover and share content from anywhere on the web. From the biggest online destinations to the most obscure blog, Digg surfaces the best stuff as voted on by our users. You won’t find editors at Digg — we’re here to provide a place where people can collectively determine the value of content and we’re changing the way people consume information online. [Source]
As a form of news discovery and social interaction, Digg was the site that started it all for me this year. During my early use the objective was to have a successful story, as I learnt to use the site and tools available I changed the strategy to just follow others activity. Instead of submitting stories I check the site daily via the web and iPhone application to see what is creating a buzz and share with my various sites connected with Digg.

8. -
Every track you play will tell your profile something about what you like. It can connect you to other people who like what you like - and recommend songs from their music collections and yours too. [Source]
As I have mentioned above in the Music post, has replaced the typical radio station. I will continue to use the site heavily in 2009 and want to interact more with the iPhone application as currently I am playing my iTunes playlist when travelling between locations. For music this is a must have!

7. Brightkite -
Brightkite is a location-based social network. In real time you can see where your friends are and what they're up to. Depending on your privacy settings you can also meet others nearby. [Source]
In recent weeks I have found that my activity with Brightkite has increased considerably. Being able to update your status from your exact location and attach a photo - if required - is an excellent way to interact with friends. The iPhone application really made Brightkite useful as now I can update when on the move and if I encounter anything I want to share :)

6. YouTube -
YouTube is a video sharing website where users can upload, view and share video clips. [Source]
YouTube is the biggest video sharing community on the Internet, it's like a visual search engine experience and you can waste many hours watching clips and videos. I've a few clips hosted, the most popular being N.E.R.D at Brixton which has received 3,578 views and 16 comments. Mainly I use YouTube for browsing, watching trailers and music and I also feel that it's a great education tool as I can bring the world to my children.

5. Google
Google Inc. is an American public corporation, earning revenue from advertising related to its Internet search, e-mail, online mapping, office productivity, social networking, and video sharing services as well as selling advertising-free versions of the same technologies. [Source]
The term Google has now become a verb. To Google something means you are searching the Internet for what you require. I hear this term everywhere, from in the office to in the street 'Have you Googled it...' has become one of the statements of the year. After Change and Fail for obvious reasons :) Google Search has been an essential part of my working and personal life in accessing/obtaining information. Google services have also become a major part of my activity as well, will 2009 be the year of the GoogleOS?

4. Twitter -
Twitter is a free social networking and micro-blogging service that allows its users to send and read other users' updates (otherwise known as tweets), which are text-based posts of up to 140 characters in length. [Source]
With Twitter there is so much potential, this year though has mainly been about stability. The Fail Whale that was a regular part of the scene has now faded into obscurity, downtime is also no longer a word associated with Twitter. Instead we now have a medium that is recognised for breaking news, a tool used by celebrities like Britney Spears and President-elect Barack Obama. With the Twitter API developers are able to create clients whereby users can cater their experience for their needs. Through Twitter I have interacted with some amazing people and participated in a tweetup recently which was an experience. Many sites are predicting Twitter to go mainstream next year, it's possible but I feel that next year will be too soon. Instead I feel it will continue to grow with the holy grail being to generate revenue.

3. Friendfeed -
FriendFeed enables you to keep up-to-date on the web pages, photos, videos and music that your friends and family are sharing. It offers a unique way to discover and discuss information among friends. [Source]
I feel that 2008 was all about Friendfeed, a feed aggregator that consolidates, community, social media and networking interaction. Providing the ability to stream information from various sites and create a customised feed with which to discuss with my peers. The founders of Friendfeed are all former Google employees, they are a talented team and with frequent updates the site has become the destination source for the latest information. Recently introduced Real-time feed will only get better and I'm hoping for an iPhone application in the New Year to take the experience further.

2. Facebook -
Facebook gives people the power to share and makes the world more open and connected.

Millions of people use Facebook everyday to keep up with friends, upload an unlimited number of photos, share links and videos, and learn more about the people they meet.
Facebook is still the platform where I can interact with my friends, import my feeds, share information and be a voyeur see what my friends are doing. The sites growth has been phenomenal and with 140 million members it looks certain to pass 200 million at some point in 2009. With the Facebook platform and newly released Facebook Connect the site continues to evolve to enhance the Facebook experience.

1. Google Reader -
Google Reader is a Web-based aggregator, capable of reading Atom and RSS feeds online or offline. [Source]
Google Reader is my number one site for 2008, it's the site that I am dependant on for news and updates. It's through Google Reader that I am able to digest and understand what is happening in the world. Google Reader has changed the way that I view sites and also made newspapers for the first time feel dated due to my iPhone access. Why read yesterday's stories when through Google Reader, the sites I am subscribed to and my friends shared items I am able to digest the news that I want. Any item that I find interesting, I can share with my friends and these notes are also published through sites like Friendfeed and Socialmedian. Through Atom and RSS I am able to syndicate the sites I find interesting in one location, this is why I rate Google Reader as indispensable and my number one.

What were the sites you enjoyed using the most, is there anything I have missed?