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The best websites in the world…ever. Vol.13

Alex Christie

24 October 2008

The English craving, personified by Big Brother, for wanting to know what others are up to is somewhat satiated by the internet, and if I was a particularly nosey person my favourite web site would no doubt be Facebook. As this is not really my style, my curiosity for discovering the thoughts of others however is directed towards more niche sites such as Trip Advisor and Top Table which gives me the views and insight of others that I need to make informed decisions – a bit like chatting over the garden fence on steroids.

A different way of seeing what others are up to is to have a good rummage round sites such as Alexa which will show you the top 100 sites ranked by traffic in the UK. This list covers the usual suspects like Google, which for me is more a way of life these days than a bog standard web site. View the list in full here.

I am not a great surfer and tend to stick to sites that match current interests. I look at quite a number of new-to-me sites these days, being a first-time dad, which still has a similar feel to my first daunting steps down the baby aisle at the supermarket! These include Mumsnet, Dad Can Do, Expert Village and most embarrassingly How To Clean Anything.

A site that I don’t visit as frequently as I used to is Snopes – a site that uncovers the mysteries behind urban legends. For example, Snopes will reveal whether George W Bush really did proclaim, "The problem with the French is that they don’t have a word for entrepreneur," or if Albert Einstein really did declare that compound interest to be "the most powerful force in the universe".

But down to business. My all time number one web site has to be The BBC. From their iplayer to learning Brazilian football tricks, to podcasts and interactive learning, the Beeb’s site is so large and diverse that all users will find something of interest and potentially lose a bunch of time within its millions of pages. It also gives me satisfaction that this is all paid for by our TV licenses and is one of the few things that us Brits can be really proud of these days.

Second up is a web radio where I can select what I want to listen to by genre (funk, pop etc) and brilliantly by mood (energetic, dark, calm or positive). Once these choices have been made the genius that is Musicovery kicks into action by playing the closest track on their listings, and then displaying on a visual map the path from that track to other matches, allowing me to choose similar tracks according to their connections. It’s a great way to discover new music within a very novel user interface.

My last selection is a bit of a cheat. Visible Path is more of a web application than a textbook web site but is something that I am using constantly at the moment. It helps me manage my professional network by using some sort of rocket science to automatically rate all the relationships in my Outlook contacts and then tracks all my interaction with them. The stats it provides me gives me insight into the strength of relationships and the strength of the paths to those contacts. Very cool indeed. Once I have used this for a short while longer I will blog again with my verdict.

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