The ten websites that shaped my life

Posted on December 4, 2009 by

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1. Penny Arcade. www.penny-arcade.com

Launched in 1998, Penny Arcade is one of the longest running and most successful webcomics on the internet, creating a standard all other webcomics have since tried to conform to. It spawned the charity, Childs play, and famously did battle with Anti-Games activist Lawyer Jack Thompson, donating $10,000 to charity in his name. The strip itself focuses on the observations of author avatars Johnathan Gabriel and Tycho Brahe, usually discussing recent developments in the entertainment industry, and proves that comics produced for the internet can be both highly intelligent, witty and challenging.

A typical PA strip

The hazards of blogging

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2. Wikipedia. www.wikipedia.org
I know, it seems like the easy choice, and it gets a lot of flak, but bear with me on this one. Launched nearly nine years ago, Wikipedia is (in case you’ve been living under a rock) a free, user-edited encyclopedia boasting 3.1 million articles in English alone, with a total of 14 million in various other languages. Despite numerous claims that due its ‘free to edit’ nature, Wikipedia suffers from dubious article quality, but this doesn’t change the fact that it has almost surpassed ‘googling‘ as the first port of call when looking stuff up.

That's no moon...

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3. TV Tropes. www.tvtropes.org
Bearing the slogan ‘TV Tropes will ruin your life’, TVT is essentially an online catalogue of techniques used in television, movies, games, books, music, anime, manga and theatre, it strives to be informative and entertaining. TVT is a wiki, but it doesn’t take itself anything like as seriously as ‘the other wiki’. It’s a deeply addictive site. You can log on to look up the character devices used in a cartoon series from the 80’s, and end up looking at an article on how filmmakers get sparks coming off of swords six hours later.

TV Tropes will ruin your life

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4. Amazon. www.amazon.co.uk
Launched in 1995, and started life as an online bookstore, but quickly expanded its stock to include almost everything else you can think of. It has since grown into one of the most popular online retailers, as well as competing with chain-store companies like Walmart, receiving two times as many hits as the American giant’s own web service. Amazon has also been responsible for the popularisation of e-readers, with its release of the Kindle, which originally sold out in five hours when it first went on the market. Amazon makes internet shopping almost scarily simple, with everything you could ever want just a click away.

Oh, cool, my stuff's here!

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5. eBay. www.ebay.co.uk
A used pink bath robe. A rare mint snowglobe. A smurf TV tray. These are the things ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic bought on eBay. Like Amazon, eBay was launched way back in ’95, although it did things a little differently. Instead of offering retail items, eBay is an auction site, allowing users to put almost anything on for others to bid for. And bid for they do. The number of items sold over eBay are well into the billions, and the site is constantly updating to keep up with the needs of the user. A number of people make their entire living from it.

Flee in Terror, the attack of the giant illuminated letters has finally begun!

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6. Game Politics. www.gamepolitics.com
Launched in 2005, GP is a journalistic blog all about the political side of video gaming, featuring topics on games legislation, culture, high profile critics like the infamous Jack Thompson and Keith Vaz, and how the media reacts to games-related news. While an American site in it’s basis, it covers stories from around the world, and proves that gamers care about the world around them, despite what the critics would have the public believe.

Fighting for truth, Justice, and a free copy of Halo 3

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7. Urban Dictionary. www.urbandictionary.com
Ever hear a turn of phrase you don’t recognise? I can pretty much guarantee that Urban Dictionary will not only have a definition, but it will have hundreds. You never again have to suffer that awkward moment of having to admit you don’t know what on earth your friends are talking about. UD also offers a ‘word of the day’ service, which sends a new phrase, often topical, to your inbox.

What up, yo. I'm talking street.

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8. The Escapist. www.escapistmagazine.com
An Australian-based online magazine, first launched in 2005, originally running ‘print-quality’ articles written by leading names in the online community, although now more focused on video content, is the home of a number of ‘internet celebrities’, such as games reviewer Ben ‘Yahtzee’ Crowshaw, who hosts a weekly show titled ‘Zero Punctuation’, which has resulted in a thousand percent increase in site traffic. The Escapist also covers a number of large exhibitions around the world, and continues to publish editorial articles and other written content.

This man is known and feared across the internet. Honest.

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9. Youtube. www.youtube.com
Another site launched in 2005, Youtube allows for the streaming of video content uploaded by its many users. It has received criticism from the music industry for allowing people to put music and music videos online, where anyone can watch them for free. Through youtube, anyone can become an internet celebrity, although most people use it to listen to music and watch videos of laughing babies. It’s also one of a number of sites banned in China, along with facebook, blogspot, wordpress and…

Home of the free, the Brave, and the profusely inebriated.

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10. Twitter. www.twitter.com
Twitter is a microblogging site launched in 2006. Most people couldn’t work out what it was for. What Twitter essentially allows you to do, is make 140 character ‘tweets’, which are then viewable by all those who follow you. Sort of like the sermon on the mount for the modern age. Twitter has recently become very popular, boasting a number of twitterati (the tweet elite) who boast thousands of followers, such as Stephen Fry, Charlie Brooker and Jimmy Carr (And me, but I only have 10 followers). Twitter achieved something of a renaissance as a source for freedom of the truth when Trafigura issued a superinjunction preventing traditional news media from reporting that the company had released toxic waste in Côte d’Ivoire.

King of Twitter.

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Posted in: Internet