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Rex Sorgatz

Idea: a chain of popup stores. (I don't know what it even means, but it seems like everything is now either a chain or a popup store.)

dec 3
2006

Best Blogs of 2006 that You (Maybe) Aren't Reading

Every year around this time, I attempt to summarize what's been happening online by publishing my list of the best blogs of the year [2002, 2003, 2004]. But I abruptly stopped last year because the list had become annoyingly redundant. Yes, dear blogosphere, after only six (or so) years of existence, you already have your canon, created either through fiat, power laws, or meritocracy -- you decide!

Sure, new sites break through (such as Techcrunch and Valleywag did this year), but a glance at the Technorati 100 shows that things aren't really that different than they were a few years ago. So do you really need me to prattle on about the significance of Kottke and Waxy, Romenesko and Gawker, Engadget and Scoble? I think not. Instead, this year I've gathered 30 blogs that you perhaps aren't reading.

Caveat: no human on the planet is qualified to do this, and the 500 blogs that I follow probably represents how many blogs are created in a second.1 On the other hand, this is not a list of esoteric blogs that you'll smirk at and never read again. I actually read all of these, because I think they're great.

And finally, please add your under-appreciated blog suggestions in the comments. Because really, aren't the overlooked ones the reason we're all here anyway?

30. Starbucks Gossip
Romenesko's other other blog, Starbucks Gossip is the kind of idea you wish more people would rip off. A gossip blog for fans and employees alike, the site has been on the forefront of such controversies as the ghetto latte and the tipping debate. (See also: Mini-Microsoft.)

29. TV Squad
Blogging about tv sounds hard -- you're always a day late, yet you're always a spoiler. This surprisingly good Weblogs Inc. blog finds the right balance between last night's TiVo and tomorrow's buzzed show. (See also: Television Without Pity & Tuned In.)

28. Ballardian
Sorry, this isn't actually J.G. Ballard's blog. As possibly the only science fiction writer who merits the adjectival form, Ballard is synonymous with technology, body enhancement, organic architecture, dystopia, car crashes, and other generally weird stuff. This blog is about those things, sorta. (See also: William Gibson's Blog & Bruce Sterling's Blog & City of Sound.)

27. T-Shirt Critic
I've got this theory that the t-shirt is becoming its own legitimate form of media -- informative yet dispensable. Probably the most frequent email query I get is "where do you get all those t-shirt links?" The answer is all over the freaking place -- but this site is one of the best. (See also: Preshrunk & iloveyourtshirt.)

26. Pruned
Ostensibly, this is a blog about landscape architecture, but it actually illustrates how any discipline has complexity and hybridity behind it, usually by gathering all sorts of random pieces of visual culture. (See also: BLDG BLOG & Things Magazine.)

25. Ypulse
You can count the number of people making a living by blogging on a couple of hands, but be sure to add a digit for Anastasia. If you think you know what teenagers are talking about today, you may reconsider after reading this blog, which tracks everything that the kids (Generation Y) are into. (See also: Agenda Inc.)

24. Eyeteeth & Offcenter
Through some bad twist of misfortune, I never met the multi-talented Paul Schmelzer when I lived in Minneapolis. But I've been collecting all the marvellous little spores he leaves behind on various sites around the interweb, including these two. (See also: Greg.org.)

23. We Make Money Not Art
There's an easy way to get me to fall in love with your blog -- just link to a meat chess board, and I'm all yours. The international talent on this blog covers topics in the digital arts: social media, electronic design, wearable computing, etc. (See also: Design Observer & reBlog.)

22. Dethroner
Not that you care, but 2006 was a crummy year for the lad magazine. Could it be that the social internet is invading dude-ness too? This one-man site (from Joel Johnson, former Gizmodo editor, recently interviewed by Matt Haughey) is a good example of what one person can do in a niche topic. (See also: Daddy Types.)

21. Cute Overload
Yes, hipster, I know -- you, your sister, and your mom have seen Cute Overload. But have you bookmarked it? Have you returned to it every day just for some cheery bunnies? You have not truly experienced Cute Overload until it has become a ritual. I dare you. (See also: Flickr: Interestingness.)

20. IFC TV
Picking the best film blog is difficult. Luckily, picking the best one you perhaps aren't reading is easy! This link-heavy blog is the perfect mix of news and views on film culture. (See also: Cinematical & GreenCine Daily.)

19. Journerdism
From the esteemed tradition of Waxy and Snark Market comes Journerdism, a link blog from Floridan new media journalist, Will Sullivan. (See also: Magnetbox & PaidContent & Innovation in Colllege Media.)

18. Metafilter
Joke, right? No, not really, because I bet everyone reading this post has at one time or another given up on Metafilter. And unlike the time you gave up on Slashdot, you eventually came back to Metafilter. (See also: Ask.Metafilter, the real reason this site deserves to be here.)

17. videos.antville.org
You're going to see a huge surge of video link blogs this year, but this one has always stood above the others for good community contributions of quality music videos. (See also: ClipTip & Digg: Music Videos.)

16. Marmaduke Explained
There's only one way to make Marmaduke funny: attempt to explain why Mamaduke is funny. Brilliant. (See also: Silent Penultimate Panel.)

15. Josh Spear
Cool Hunting and The Cool Hunter are, well, cool. But they tend to track international trends that seldom seem to intersect with your life. Josh Spear's cool hunting includes stuff you might actually be able to afford getting your hands on. (See also: NotCot.org.)

14. Data Mining
Yawn, right? Nuh-uh. Everything that's happening today in areas around buzz tracking, social media, geocoding, data visualization, and countless other subjects is tracked on this blog, where I consistently discover new ideas. (See also: Blog Pulse & Micro Persuasion.)

13. Make Magazine
Even though this blog is arguably pretty popular, I'm including the work of the indefatigable Phillip Torrone because the trend of life hacking and productivity really started to emerge this year. Make's philosophy is simple: anything can be DIY if you just figure out how to hack it. (See also: Lifehacker & 43 Folders & Life Clever.)

12. 3 Quarks Daily
3 Quarks Daily sets the paradigm for what a good personal blog should be: eclectic but still thematic, learned but not boring, writerly but not wordy. (See also: Snark Market & wood s lot.)

11. Screens
I've had a boyish crush on Virginia Heffernan's writing since her days as Slate's tv columnist. This year, she started this peculiar little blog for the New York Times, covering the cultural side of the internet video industry before anyone realized there was such a thing. She was the first mainstream media writer to snag lonelygirl15 as a storyline (which I -- still boyishly -- think she first saw here), writing in a cozy vernacular that you were surprised in the old gray lady. (See also: Lost Remote & Carpetbagger.)

10. BuzzFeed
It might be too early to judge this recently-launched human+computer buzz hybrid, but so far the meme detector has caught Hipster-on-Hipster Hatred, Evil Hippies Ruining Stuff, and Racist Jokes as strangely recurrent cultural themes. (See also: Hype Machine & Blogebrity.)

9. Pulse Laser
Matt Webb is the kind of nerd that all nerds aspire to be. His amazing presentations mix science fiction, Coke commercials, and brain chemistry in ways natural only to polymaths. With his partner Jack Schulze, Webb has worked on such projects as redefining news with BBC, understanding phone personalization with Nokia, and writing about mind hacks for O'Reilly. Impressive work, but this blog tracks their random ideas, such as the social letterbox or a collection of robot arms. (See also: Ratchet Up & v-2.org.)

8. Subtraction
An editor from The Atlantic who was doing a story on buzz-building recently contacted me about finding the source of a meme he saw on Fimoculous. He asked where I got it, and I said Subtraction, to which he replied, "that's what everyone else said too." A blogger's blogger, Khoi Vinh is the new design director at the NYTimes.com, which might sound high-brow, but his personal site has the quality you most desire from a blogger: curiosity. (See also: Anil Dash.)

7. Pop Candy
I'm as surprised as you that a USA Today blog makes this list. Beyond the cute Chuck Taylors in her pic, what makes Whitney Matheson better than the slew of other pop culture blogs out there? Simple: while everyone else is there to out-snark and out-upskirt-shot each other, Whitney seems to actually like popular culture. (See also: Stereogum & Amy's Robot.)

6. Future of the Book
Ostensibly about exploring the shift from the printed page to the networked screen, Future of the Book stumbles across a variety of new ideas along the way, such as creating a wikibook on gaming. Although occasionally windy, Future of the Books is on the precipice of something big. (See also: Read/Write Web & Smart Mobs.)

5. Corpus Obscurum
It's an inspired idea: track the obits of those whose accomplishments vastly exceeded their fame. So you get the last boxer to fight Muhammad Ali, the animator of Fred Flintstone, the tuba player from the Jaws theme, the first physician convicted of illegally performing an abortion in a hospital, and many, many more. (See also: Blog of Death.)

4. Information Aesthetics
I suspect we need a chart to explain why this blog is so great, because just saying "this blog tracks instances of data visualization" sounds like it could be a weapon to kill terrorists with boredom. But this site is essential reading for anyone interested in the ways that engineers and designers turn the messy world into a clear visual representation. (See also: Visual Complexity & xBlog.)

3. Google Operating System
Like William Gibson famously decreeing that the future is already here but not evenly distributed, this blog's name alludes to the ongoing rumor that Google is starting its own operating system, which is essentially already here but we don't even realize it. The site offers "news and tips about Google" (hey, they put ads on their maps; wow, only a handful of sites have a 10 PageRank; huh, you can mute threads in Gmail), but the best posts have top form theorizing on what the future holds for the online operating system. (See also: Google Blogoscoped & John Battelle's SearchBlog.)

2. History of the Button
A blog about the history of buttons? Yes! A blog about the history of buttons! Finally, someone has come along to try to say something sensible about this year's wretched Adam Sandler movie Click, to trace the history of game show buzzers and buttons, and to analyze Push! The! Button! cries in Lost. Next thing you know, you're seeing buttons everywhere. It's a button nation. (See also: Boxes and Arrows & Signal vs. Noise.)

1. Indexed
Is this seriously the best blog on this list? Who knows -- but it's a minor form of genius. (See also: McSweeney's Lists & 10,000 Reasons & Gaping Void.)

Thanks to Andy, Greg, Lock, Matt, Jim, Robin, Andrew, David, Ted, Matt, Karl, Andrew, and Chuck for their advice on this project.

1If you believe Technorati's numbers, it's actually about one blog per second.

70 comments

Rex,

Thank you for shoving Girl Killer in my face.

One blog that is only a couple months old--and could flame out easy--but to watch in o7 is: http://www.violentacres.com/

I found it on my own--why? Couple themes seem to be hitting. well, you be the judge.

posted by john taylor at 10:10 PM on December 3, 2006

The Lost Remote Killer has killed Lost Remote? I'm hurt.

posted by Safran at 10:52 PM on December 3, 2006

Oh, you know perfectly well that Lost Remote is too established to make this list.

posted by Rex at 11:17 PM on December 3, 2006

Rex--

Thanks for the shout-out in #10 -- Blogebrity's flattered to be in the mix, especially of an A-lister's reading recommendations.

posted by Kyle at 11:55 PM on December 3, 2006

Another blog to watch is Etre's Reaction! (it's about user experience design).

posted by Jeff at 6:07 AM on December 4, 2006

re: music videos - shots ring out deserves a shout.

posted by progosk at 6:39 AM on December 4, 2006

This is a great list. I'm always looking for new blogs to read, so it's nice to get some really good recommendations all in one place. While not yet up to the caliber of the blogs mentioned, I'd love for you to check out my blog: Didn't You Hear (http://www.didntyouhear.com). It's a little bit of everything mixed together with a little bit of humor and some informative stuff thrown in for good measure.

posted by Cory O'Brien at 7:10 AM on December 4, 2006

I have to agree with you on Pop Candy and YPulse. I read both of those daily. Also, I too had given up on MetaFilter and then came back. I thought it was just me.

posted by Robyn Tippins at 8:00 AM on December 4, 2006

This one has only been up for 6 months or so, but it's freakin' hilarious. It's a sports blog, but they just rip everybody. Always pretty good and updated quite a bit:

http://thesportshernia.typepad.com/

posted by John Thewes at 8:20 AM on December 4, 2006

Checked out YPulse ... more ads than content for crying out loud, and no convenient way to AdBlock them. Would never dream of going back.

posted by C. Maoxian at 8:29 AM on December 4, 2006

Oh, lovely! Thanks for reading. I hope you're enjoying it.

posted by Joel at 8:36 AM on December 4, 2006

http://www.axesandalleys.com is a dadaesque humour and satire web and print magazine published five days a week (sometimes on Saturday if we get up early enough).

posted by Jeremy at 10:57 AM on December 4, 2006

Metafilter? I think you forgot google.com. Some people probably left it also.

posted by g at 11:41 AM on December 4, 2006

I think an honorable mention would be


a writer who loves candy and writes about it, great photos too.

posted by richard at 11:44 AM on December 4, 2006

great list! great links!...have you looked at BetterBadNews...a sort of "DAILY SHOW" (minus the mugging) about the Tech World, politics (local and international)...check it out

posted by Elvis Presskit at 11:56 AM on December 4, 2006

Woahhhh - Great *GREAT* list! Indexed is a surefire keeper, as are at least a dozen of the others.

Bookmarked like it's going out of style.

posted by Phil Renaud at 11:59 AM on December 4, 2006

I am surprised and amazed that you don't have my blog in the best of 2006. Must be an oversightr, eh!Let's get things back into perspective here!

posted by Allan W Janssen at 12:20 PM on December 4, 2006

One of the best blogs online happens to be angelcakes1232000, through yahoo, a most interesting and heartwarming blog, and needs to be recognized...she's a beautiful woman, with a heart of gold.........

posted by longdon_10 at 12:27 PM on December 4, 2006

Another you're probably not reading is TNL.net

It's not updated very often but generally has good content.

posted by William McDonalds at 12:35 PM on December 4, 2006

I've been a fan of radio2019 for a while now, It's updated sporadically at best, but there has been some really cool music there over the last few months.

posted by Tom at 12:42 PM on December 4, 2006

I can't believe you left out the most funny links blog of them all! How could you fail to mention daily linxzors?
Seriously, help a young blogger out

posted by Austin at 12:42 PM on December 4, 2006

Here's a spanish blog about tech and wisdom:
Graffit.

posted by milo at 1:01 PM on December 4, 2006

You missed GraphicDesignBar. Goldmine of design-related links, without the pretentious elitism you find on other design sites.

posted by Alex at 1:51 PM on December 4, 2006

Awesome list but I think you've overlooked one that makes 1000's of people smile every day, MangoFalls

posted by SlipperySal at 1:51 PM on December 4, 2006

Wow, thanks! My daily RSS reading list just went from "practically unmanageable" to "utterly impossible" in a few short mouse-clicks. In the hope of helping other folks to reach the same goal, I'll toss the recently-launched (but fast-growing) blog of The World Almanac into the ring. I imagine that many of you might take an interest in our diverse collection of stuff...

posted by C. Alan Joyce at 2:38 PM on December 4, 2006

What...no TheBestOfYoutube.com???

posted by will at 3:25 PM on December 4, 2006

Absorb The Huge Entity osmotically and rejoice; let its hugeness envelope you, be reborn in alternate realities, grapple with mind altering concepts, invest your internet surfing time in high value deliciousness. The Huge Entity may become your newest addiction. Reality weblogging has arrived at last.

posted by app at 3:26 PM on December 4, 2006

Good list. Thanks!

If you are liberally inclined, this is an excellent, eclectic blog:

http://mtanga.com/

posted by Rick M. at 4:01 PM on December 4, 2006

hey love your blog, thanks for this great post :)

posted by ashley at 4:03 PM on December 4, 2006

Smartspace does a pretty good job of collection ephemera to do with living between real and virtual environments, not unlike to Data Mining listed above, but somewhere between that blog and WMMNA.

posted by CS Smith at 4:26 PM on December 4, 2006

not a single mp3/music blog. boooo!

good finds otherwise - thanks.

posted by Dodge at 4:41 PM on December 4, 2006

Very nice post. I spent 3 hours surfing through all these blogs and it's only beginning, because I have add many to my rss reader :)

posted by jehnstar at 5:28 PM on December 4, 2006

My blog should be up there. It's everything these blogs aren't. It's highly personal, self depreciating, artisitic, and humble haha.

http://blog.myspace.com/whetzell

posted by Jason Whetzell at 5:35 PM on December 4, 2006

for dodge who wanted a musicblog -> Music-versity

posted by Michael at 6:22 PM on December 4, 2006

How the heck did you miss BWG?

http://www.bigwhiteguy.com/

posted by Bruce at 7:33 PM on December 4, 2006

Thanks for the linky love, Rex. We'll try to live up to your high praise.

posted by paul at 8:38 PM on December 4, 2006

Wow, thanks for the link, I write tcritic.com and really appreciate the complement. I've been blown away by the amount of people visiting and emailing me today, phew. I'm totally honored to be in great company as well, you list some great blogs in your list.

K

posted by karl long at 8:43 PM on December 4, 2006

Hey Rex,

Thanks for sneaking in the plug for Cinematical (I don't even write for it anymore, but since you didn't do a list last year, I'll assume this list includes the influence of bloggery circa 2005, and thus take the credit).

posted by karina at 9:20 PM on December 4, 2006

I like the Cycling Economist blog; it's certainly different! And it seems this guy has few readers. If you ever wanted to know how a rabid cyclist sees everything through cycling-tinted glasses, this is the place:

posted by Tony at 9:25 PM on December 4, 2006

I like my blog. I recently lost my job as managing editor of Beer.com and have been charting my search for a new job, totally genuine. Any link love would be much appreciated! Cheers, John. The blog is: http://makejohnnycash.blogspot.com/

posted by John Carson at 11:24 PM on December 4, 2006

You forgot:

Information Architects Japan's Notebook

Has been THE discovery of the year for me.

posted by Fidelio at 11:31 PM on December 4, 2006

if you ever wonder what its like to live outside the United States (...as in outside the box), try our blog www.yucatanliving.com .

posted by working gringa at 12:00 AM on December 5, 2006

check out carlsonmilliss on adaptive reuse, it's like pruned in the way it uses a simple premise to investigate everything imaginable all with a humorous but rather acerbic commentary.

posted by GeoFry at 12:38 AM on December 5, 2006

What, no Monkeys For Helping? Sheesh.

posted by Ti at 2:03 AM on December 5, 2006

Quick Online Tips for me.

posted by Jain at 7:02 AM on December 5, 2006

Really good list of blogs. I found a few I din't know about, so thanks. Here are some I think are excellent that you don't have on your list. They all fall within the link blog but they are a cut above the rest, at least IMHO.

http://presurfer.meepzorp.com/

http://www.neatorama.com/

http://www.spaltenstein-ursi.ch/blog/weblog.php

http://www.eso-garden.com/

http://growabrain.typepad.com/growabrain/

posted by Jo-Ann Burton at 2:54 PM on December 5, 2006

starbucks gossip?

posted by lala at 3:20 PM on December 5, 2006

Rex - I'll toss out a few political blogs (since that topic seemed MIA) ... try Orcinus, from David Neiwert, a Seattle freelance journalist - great for insightful essays. For the quick take, beltway scoop, see the The Washington Note, by Steve Clemons and
Taggan Goddard's Political Wire. Then there's Memeorandum - maybe it belongs with the BlogPulse listing?

Group blogs: Crooked Timber (academics, but with non-academic relevance) and FireDogLake (political - notable for their campaign fundraising in 2006, IMO).


posted by Kathy at 3:46 PM on December 5, 2006

The Huge Entity seconded. Best blog in this universe (and quite possibly a handful of others)

posted by Penguin-Rancher at 8:06 PM on December 5, 2006

You missed mine! :)

posted by Doug Karr at 10:44 PM on December 5, 2006

Oh wow, it looks like I've got a bit to check out! I've only heard of Make: and We make money not art. Thanks =D

posted by Toad at 7:12 AM on December 6, 2006

ggfgfgh

posted by fghgfjh at 7:36 AM on December 6, 2006

Oh wow, it looks like I've got a bit to check out! I've only heard of Make: and We make money not art. Thanks =D

posted by Toad at 8:10 AM on December 6, 2006

Check out Torso, the most complete news site covering everything that covers your torso. It would have to be up there somewhere, though there are some great blogs listed.

posted by Matt at 8:42 AM on December 6, 2006

Here's a blog that was missed - a Travel blog for the Destination Guide at Southpoint.com - http://www.southpoint.com/blog/index.html

posted by carl at 10:17 AM on December 6, 2006

Every Blogger knows, this is Nowhere!

posted by ZuDfunck at 12:34 PM on December 6, 2006

Talk about giving Freudian Slips the slip.
http://www.freudianslipsincreativewriting.blogspot.com/

posted by joe tornatore at 7:40 AM on December 7, 2006

Interesting list of sites.

posted by Free dating tips at 1:47 PM on December 7, 2006

I agree with your TV choices, although I'm also a fan of AllYourTV.com (which I think I might have found first through Lost Remote). I's not exactly a blog, and it's not exactly a traditional site. Which I think might be what keeps people from noticing it. But they do a lot of nice coverage of fairly offbeat TV stuff, which I don't see anywhere else. Now if they would just bit more predictable about when they update the site.

posted by Steve Andrews at 2:11 PM on December 7, 2006

you forgot me ;) jk

We Make Money Not Art is my absolute favorite blog... but Indexed? Seriously, I subscribed to Indexed's RSS long ago and every post is disappointing and not that great. I'm sure it's a nice blog, but just gets boring.

posted by ariel at 8:36 PM on December 7, 2006

Many of us weren't blogging in 2002, 3, or 4, and were unaware of the Canon. So much good reading. Thanks for the list. TherapyDoc

posted by Linda Freedman at 9:27 PM on December 7, 2006

If you're looking to make a list for next year, can I recommend my personal favourite
http://youpissedmeoffyoubastard.blogspot.com/

posted by simon at 7:15 AM on December 8, 2006

wow number one is fantastic. im hooked! thanks for sharing!

posted by Elit Alice at 8:16 AM on December 9, 2006

Marmaduke rocks! But ironic commentary on Marmaduke doesn't...

O, fallen hipsters! Hast thee nothing better to do?

posted by Rex Thunderthighs at 12:40 PM on December 9, 2006

No video game blogs made the cut? Sad panda!

posted by Niero at 1:08 PM on December 9, 2006

Thank goodness you didn't choose the fat and ugly Perez Hilton!! But he was good in bed...

Try RealityBlurred...

posted by Rex Thunderthighs at 8:22 PM on December 9, 2006

I am starting this audio-text blog. Sort of podcast but diffrent. It is actually only in spanish although audio is both in english and Spanish. I am looking forward that this blog becomes something worldwide... Anyhow I hope you speak about it next 2007 Gururaj Ananda Yogi

posted by Ramon Leonato at 3:29 PM on December 11, 2006

I like my blog, which explores the world of old paper. www.ephemera.typepad.com

posted by Marty Weil at 6:43 PM on December 12, 2006

Since everyone looks like their shamelessly promoting their own blogs, here's mine:

posted by Ashley at 9:03 AM on December 13, 2006

What about My Part of Nairobi?

Where else can you find out about what it's like to live in another country, toilet paper production values and human-powered carts?

posted by paul at 7:22 AM on December 14, 2006




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