We've Come a Long Way, Baby

Top 10s in Technology Stories, Gaming, and Web Sites

After years of promising to change the way we thought about things, the World Wide Web finally made good on its name. By 1999, long gone were the days when the Internet was a land ruled by porn sites, populated by pictures of people's kitties -- big bucks were poured into Internet companies, resulting in a glut of media ads, a race to invest, and plenty of start-ups flush with virtual money. Meanwhile, faster technology sped up Internet access. Which was a good thing, since it meant we all had more time to e-mail each other. But new technology wasn't just on people's desktops and clipped to their belts, it was on their tongues, kicking around in their brains, and infiltrating their water cooler conversations -- whether it was Microsoft as a monopoly, the controversy over MP3, the existence of the Blair Witch (whose myth was so beautifully perpetuated online), bloated Internet IPOs, or the backlash against violent video games like Doom and Quake. This year, we cared about the evolution of technology in a way we never have before, because we were the ones using it -- shopping, reading, listening, researching, watching.

It was a fitting capstone to a century whose biggest stories involved the evolution of technology -- and its effect on entertainment, warfare, business, and communication. With that in mind, Jon Lebkowsky has supplemented our regular top 10 lists with a roundup of the century's most important communications media -- a list that, in essence, charts the evolution of communication throughout the 20th century. In his "best of the decade" list, he takes a look at how the latter half of that list -- from Internet access to broadband -- has changed the Nineties and played a hand in the most compelling stories of this past year. A look at Marcel Meyer's various top 10s for gaming shows how much the intelligence and style of video, console, and computer games have changed over the industry's comparatively brief 20-year lifespan. And I'd like to bring your attention to some of the local and national Web sites which continue to forge new paths along which we can inform and entertain ourselves, do business, or communicate with others. They are a mix of the Web sites we have used most in this decade and the ones we will continue to hear about in the next. All of them change and challenge our lives -- not only the way we live in our world, but the way we think about it.

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