December 14, 2009

The Best Web Sites of 2009.

elephant’s Top 37 “Walk the Talk” Web Sites of 2009.

These are the top 37 sites I actually read—or watched—with some consistency in 2009. The thread that runs through all of them, if there is one, is that these sites represent personal, independent voices. Whether a gay politics site (Pinko Mag) or a feminist site (Feministing) or The Daily Show, there’s good writing, grassroots troublemaking and good ideas on all of ’em.

There’s a few new ones, like Natural Papa, that I’ve just clued into and that therefore didn’t make the list. And, like Natural Papa (about fatherhood), there are countless great sites that, because I’m a male whitey liberal Coloradoan bachelor, that I’m not reading that you probably love…which means there are some great ones focused on other demographics than my one that I’ve missed.

Feel free to add your favorite in comments, with link!

  1. Westword. Live in Colorado? This Denver-centric blog, the new media counterpart to the Westword paper, is well-designed, comprehensive, fun, and intelligent.
  2. Creative Citizen The peeps behind this green-focused web site like to think out of the box, both businesswise and mission-wise. They aren’t afraid to speak humble truth to the Green establishment…because they’re devoted to the cause.

  3. Greenopolis. While this site may be funded by Waste Management, it’s got awesome content, and one of the five best green video blogs in…well, the world.

  4. Greenupgrader. Great design, probably better than any other, and integrity to match. Aesthetically, it’s the Dwell or Wallpaper magazine of green web sites.

  5. Ideal Bite. While they sold out to Disney a few years back, this Daily Candy for the green set continues to churn out fun, accessible, well-researched green content. We’ve enjoyed working with them this year, partnering on content.

  6. Pinko Mag. Gay? You’ll love it. Not gay? You’ll love it. One of the best out there.

  7. Discovery’s Planet Green. Great site. I hate reading it…because I get jealous of its design, resources, quality, and support of Discovery, a great good big company if ever there was one.

  8. Shambhala Times. Will Shambhala Times bring the Buddhist community back to its community journalism roots? Back in the day, the Vajradhatu Sun represented the best of community journalism. It became the Shambhala Sun, which is great, but more public—not for the Buddhist community. Shambhala Times, however, being 2.0—you know, taking comments from readers—threatens to bring dialogue and openness back to Shambhala. Hip hip hip hooray!

  9. *Shanti*Love*Yoga* Worth a daily visit if you like peace, poetry, love, laughter, contemplation, or yoga. Love this site. Great writer.

  10. That Hipster Porn. Porn, you say? Porn, at a fundamental level, is about sex, or attraction, and nothing’s wrong with either. Hipster Porn generally portrays sexuality in an artistic, raw manner—and in a gender indiscriminate manner. If all porn were like Hipster Porn, it’d be a healthier, more satisfied, creative, out-of-the-box wwworld.

  11. Twitter Heard of it? Twitter, with Facebook, probably saved elephant in our transition from print to web. It connects users directly—forget phone numbers and messages and extensions and bureaucracy. When Comcast screwed me, I made noise on twitter, and Comcast graciously backed down. It’s power to the people, man—even or especially in totalitarian contexts such as Iran.

  12. 5280 Cool, well-designed, accessible Denver magazine. They named me…well, nevermind.

  13. Colbert Report You know. Same as Daily Show, but whackier.

  14. Craig’s List! You want eco furniture? Get it re-used—and cheaper. You want…well, just about anything, it’s here.

  15. Dwell I actually don’t read it online, much…but love the magazine. The site is well-designed.

  16. Econsciousmarket. The one stop shop for green, fair-trade gifts.

  17. Facebook Heard of it? It’s one of the few sites, like youtube or nytimes.com, that I’m on every day, that’s become basic to my life. When a site is less about itself than it is about your own life, your friends, your calendar, your news…you know a site is truly useful. And, free…what a crazy wwworld where everything is free.

  18. Feministing Great writing. Feminism. Popular. Young. Accessible. A must read. Some of it is strident, a bit obvious…but most is genuine, deeply considered, even fun.

  19. Flickr. We have a bunch of photos on there. Don’t use it much, actually, but hopefully will use it for our photo blogs next year.

  20. Good Don’t read it much, but love the design. Like the magazine, love the magazine’s design. Love the mission.

  21. Grist One of the best out there. The humor can be a bit, er, forced, or trite…but god bless ’em for trying, and…more often than not…succeeding. Which is better than not trying at all. Named best green site in the world by a little outfit called TIME Magazine, Grist combines quality independent and original journalism with the aforementioned usually successful, unforced humor…helping “green” to expand beyond our choir.

  22. Gwen Bell. Good friend, social media guruji, Gwen is a stylish, raw, crazy, arch and deeply felt connector. Love her.

  23. Huffington Post While Huff Post is beginning to take on investment—and therefore endangering the integrity of its content (boobs = traffic, so you’re see a lot more sex on Huff Post over the last year), and Huff Post is beginning to roll out local editions that compete with local, indie media…it’s still the go to site for controversy, headlines, and Arianna Huffington is one of the most innovative, delightful women humans on the planet.

  24. Intent. Mallika Chopra’s site is gorgeous, and walks its talk. She’s one of the stars of our newer generations…I can’t wait to see what they accomplish.

  25. MNN One of the best designs of any green media enterprise, MNN combines serious writing and an ambitious goal of accessibility…rivalled only by Grist, Treehugger, Inhabitat (which I don’t read, for whatever reason), Ideal Bite.

  26. The New Yorker Quality journalism, better written than any of the others on this list with the exception of the Times…best of all the NYer consistently gets me to read stuff I didn’t think I was interested in. A treasure.

  27. The New York Times Conservatives like to say it’s liberal. Fact is, the gray lady is the real deal, the go-to site for news about our world on the most basic and vital level. Without it, even conservatives would find themselves unmoored.

  28. Bill Moyers

  29. Pet Finder. Don’t buy pets, even purebreds. Rescue them. The difference is a life. Pet Finder will connect you with faces and breeds and ages all over the US. It’s like shopping for love.

  30. Shambhala Sun The web site is new and happening, Molly de Shong and Rod Meade Sperry and others are rocking it over there. Still, the Sun is mostly about being a great magazine. The web content doesn’t reflect or give away most of the mag content, I don’t think. Don’t read the magazine as often as I should, but these days I don’t read anything paper except for the Sunday NY Times and the New Yorker, and sometimes Dwell. Paper is so…1990s. And I know we all love to say, oh, I love the feel of it…but frankly it’s awkward to read a magazine as compared to my laptop, just takes getting used to. Anyway, where was I. Ah, yes: the Sun is all about quality American Buddhist journalism. It’s accessible, without dumbing down its subject. My only complaint? Wish it were twice as big, and printed 100x as many copies. More, more!

  31. The Daily Show w/ Jon Stewart He’s my first, last and everything when it comes to delivering the news in a credible, fun, accessible, yet biting manner. My idol. I’m grateful.

  32. Tonight Show w/Conan O’Brien. I love Conan. His self-deprecation, like prajna, is a self-cutting sword. And, he keeps it real…even though, now, he’s master of the world’s most famous, biggest talk show.

  33. Treehugger The biggest green web site. Don’t read it as deeply as I ought, but through twitter I wind up reading half an article a day. They bring depth and integrity to green journalism, without which echo chambers like elephant would have nothing to echo.

  34. Tricycle Magazine Like the Shambhala Sun, quality Buddhist journalism. I rarely read it online…or in print, for that matter…but that’s more a reflection of my lack of Buddhist reading than anything else.

  35. Twilight Earth I’m new to Twilight Earth, but Adam Shake and his countless friends keep it real, grassroots, and get the word out. He’s a social media powerhouse, and more importantly, a great guy. Worth bookmarking—fo’sho’.

  36. Wend Magazine Just started reading it, they sent me a subscription. Still not a huge fan of paper as a medium, but I know many of you feel differently. Wend is, with Plenty and  elephant’s demise, probably the hippest youngest most passionate magazine about our earth and protecting and enjoying it that’s out there.

  37. Yogadork Brilliant writing. Hopefully we’ll be able to team up in the future. Yogadork is going places, this one will be around in 10 years, and it’ll be big.
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