From the Actrix Online Informer January 2010

by Rob Zorn

The best of 2009


One thing I particularly enjoy about this time of the year is that the internet becomes littered with lists of 'best ofs' or 'top tens' for the year just past. Such lists are often amusing, often informative and completely and utterly usually just someone's opinion. It can be just as much fun to disagree with them as it is to agree, but what I like most is that there will always be at least one or two things on a list that I haven't heard of. This becomes a great way to discover something new, watch a film I hadn't heard of or listen to music by an artist I didn't know was there (or still there).

So here are a few end of year 'best of' lists. Because this is also the end of a decade (being the tenth year of the noughties) there are a few 'best of the decade' lists included as well.

NZ's top YouTube videos for 2009

The things that Kiwis looked at most on YouTube during 2009 included TV stars Bill and Ben riding a goat, the Air New Zealand cabin crew in body paint and dear old Susan Boyle.

Quirky clips we liked included roller babies and a funky wedding entrance dance, but over all we tended to search for tunes. Our top five viewed videos were all music clips.

The Smashproof hit single Brother was the most viewed Kiwi-made video and second overall behind Susan Boyle, followed by J Williams' Ghetto Flower clip. Pulp Sport's Bill and Ben's I'm on a Goat parody was the third most-watched in the Kiwi-made video section.

YouTube also examined billions of queries people typed into the search field and identified the fastest-rising searches each month. In April it was Susan Boyle, in June and July it was Michael Jackson and this month so far Tiger Woods takes the title.

The top five international and top five local YouTube clips can be viewed at the link provided above.

Google Zeitgeist

At each year's end Google takes a look back at the happenings of that year, the people, events and memories that made the year unique. It examines the billions of queries people around the world have typed into Google search to discover the zeitgeist, the spirit of the times.

To compile the 2009 Year-End Zeitgeist Google used data from multiple sources, including search terms, Google Trends and internal data tools.  All of the search queries used are anonymous and no personal information is included.

Except where noted, all of the search terms are the most popular for 2009, ranked in order of the queries with the largest volume of searches this year. In some cases, the "fastest rising" queries or the most popular searches conducted in 2009 are ranked and their popularity increases are compared to 2008.

Use the links on the left side of the page to discover more and more about what Google Zeitgeist tells us about ourselves.

And while we're talking about Google... most are already probably aware of this, but if you click "I'm feeling lucky" with an empty search box, Google presents you with a timer counting down by the second to 2010 I wonder what will happen when it hits 0 seconds.

The top 10 tech trends of 2009

According to this CNN story there weren't many huge improvements to technology in 2009. The year's big tech names – Twitter, Facebook, Google, Apple, Amazon – all existed before January. Instead, they say, 2009 was the year technology changed us.

"At year's end, we're connected to each other and to the Internet like never before. In 2009, we carried tiny computers in our pockets, through which we fed the Internet constant real-time info about where we were and what we were doing.

"Our app-laden phones helped us manage our on-the-go lifestyles; our books fell off the shelves and into e-readers; our televisions and video games unchained themselves from home entertainment centres; and our mobile updates helped organize protests and even threaten governments.

"We could have done any of these things in 2008. But we embraced in unprecedented numbers a digital-centred life in 2009."

Facebook memology: top status trends of 2009

Facebook has come out with its own list of popular terms, based on data from the millions of daily status updates of its users. Dubbed Facebook Memology, the company analysed one- to four-word phrases within the status updates of 2009. They went even further, though, taking "bursts of activity" and other factors into account.

Facebook provides a very detailed analysis of its top 15 status trends, but most are self-explanatory. The number one trend was Facebook apps, specifically the discussion of FarmVille in status updates. It seems that particular game has taken Facebook by storm. I don't play it but I'm always getting requests from friends to help them with a pig or cow or lemon tree or something.

Even though Internet users don't use Facebook as much as they use Google, lists like these are quite revealing about what we're thinking about. This list of 15 is really quite interesting.

Epic Facebook failures that ruined lives

I really wanted to include Fail Blog's top ten fails of 2009, but couldn't as this is a family newsletter. However, this other list of terrible mistakes people have made by putting too much information on Facebook appeals nearly as much to ones sense of Schadenfreude.

Note to selves: If you've just told your boss you're sick or too depressed to work, don't splash pictures of yourself laughing and giggling on the beach on Facebook.

Pictured left is Sir John Sawers, who was due to be appointed chief of MI6, Britain's Secret Intelligence Service, until his wife posted Facebook photos revealing where they lived and who their friends were.

In our Cyberspace News Snippets section this month we link to several stories about Facebook privacy settings and issues. One in particular has some good advice about this sort of thing. 

Books and films

On this page well-known film critic Roger Ebert lists what he thinks are the ten best mainstream films and the ten best independent films of 2009 and why. There may be one or two here that you might decide to go and see, or rent out on DVD.

This is Publisher's Weekly's list of the top 100 books of 2009, chosen out of 50,000 volumes. There's a top ten overall list, and then the best books in a number of categories including fiction, non-fiction, poetry, mystery, science-fiction, comics etc. A further link is provided to the 100 best children's books.

At the two links above you'll find The Times Online's guides to the top 100 films and top 100 books of the decade.

The most popular repurposing tricks of 2009

I think this page was compiled by MacGyver fans. Repurposing is squeezing extra and usually clever uses out of everyday objects. Here you'll find a look back at some of the most popular repurposing ideas posted to the Lifehacker site during 2009.

I'm not sure whether my favourite is the cat haven made of bookshelves or the outlet hanging charge station made out of a used plastic bottle. The mugger's wallet is also a pretty cool idea. Whatever the case you can vote for your favourite at the site.

If you are a MacGuyver fan, you can also see a list of the top 10 tricks MacGyver would be proud of at the Lifehacker site. Not sure they're all from 2009, but they are pretty nifty.

The brands that experienced the most phishing attacks in 2009

Avira has published a top list of brands that experienced the most phishing attacks in 2009. The top three brands according to their chart are PayPal with 32,205 threats followed by Chase Bank with 25,901 threats and eBay with 18,738 threats. Each threat in this case refers to a unique internet address that was being used to phish data from users. Man, those phishers are busy!

Below the article is a set of links to more stories about phishing, including explanations of what it is and how it works. Or you can check out our Online Informer article on phishing from March 2008.

The biggest controversies of 2009

Here we have the 12 biggest controversies of 2009, a "month-by-month review of the clashes, scandals, debates, and disputes that drove opinion in 2009." They're mostly American moments, but many of them have been of international interest.

"From President Barack Obama's historic inauguration to Tiger Woods' surreal fall from grace, 2009 has proved to be a tumultuous time in American history. As the year comes to a close, The Week takes a look back at the political controversies, celebrity scandals, and public outrages that most defined the last year of this decade."

YouTube videos are provided with of the ten controversial topics, and at the foot of the page are links to a few other lists, though not necessarily from 2009. I'm intrigued by what could be on the Top 10 Sesame Street controversies list.

The top ten everything,29569,1945379,00.html

Typically, Time magazine has to do everything better than everybody else. Not content to offer its views on the best of this or that for 2009, they list the best of everything! It must have taken them all year just to compile this list.

We get music albums, the best news stories in various categories, awkward moments, break ups, buzz words, fashion faux pas an many many more. Click items in the list to go to stories about them.

The ten most influential internet moments of the decade

And what could be more appropriate than finishing up this article with a list of the most important internet moments of the last ten years? Almost always, says the iWire site presenting this list, the events chosen were enablers of future products, future trends, future means of sharing our lives.

The internet has come a long way since 2000 and its impact on our lives is probably greater than we realise. I look forward to writing this article again in 2019!

A few more 2009 "best ofs"

Last issue we published links to a number of "best of" lists for 2009. That list was prepared pretty early in December 2009 and, of course, quite a few more "best of" lists came out in late December/Early January. Here are just a few worth noting.

Stuff's Weirdest internet moments of 2009 is a fun read. "From the German town that unwittingly advertised pornography on its website to the American who interrupted his wedding to update his Facebook and Twitter accounts, the world was full of weird internet stories in 2009.

What you clicked on Stuff in 2009. While many days on Stuff are dominated by stories about celebrities, or yarns that make you raise your eyebrows, hard and breaking news dominated the most-clicked stories those that received the highest number of "hits" from itsreaders.

The BBC's Month by month internet highlights of 2009 runs through the year detailing interesting things that happened in the online world during each month of last year. "It was the year of Keyboard Cat, the Pope getting his own YouTube Channel, and the 20th anniversary of Sir Tim Berners-Lee inventing the world wide web.

The BBC also breaks the year down month-by-month for Twitter. This story provides an interesting overview of just how important Twitter has become in shaping opinion and spreading news. 2009 even saw the first court order served over Twitter!

CNN polled a handful of the most tech-savvy folks they knew for their thoughts on the worst moments in technology from 2009 – the most epic "fails" of the year.

Here's a link to Computerworld's New York-sourced article on the Top 10 tech stories of the decade.

The worst ideas of the decade. These sorts of stories are always interesting. You might agree that the idea that house prices will always rise was the baddest idea or that some of the tactics used in Afghanistan were a bit dodgy. But I think television dance competitions are right up there among the worst mistakes of the noughties.

And for something a little bit different, here's a New Zealand Herald article about five high-profile trials that captured public attention during 2009.



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