BEST OF THE WEB
There are nearly 5 million websites out there. And here are our favorites.
A pretty tall order, no? In truth, we could have put together a perfectly good list from what we rejected. As Brill's Content researched top websites, we found many that were interesting, useful, even provocative. But the sites that made this list1our second annual1had something extra. After our team of six reporters and writers clicked through them, interviewed their creators, talked to super-users, and ran response-time tests, these were the ones that truly stood out.
You'll note some changes from last year: Each site has been given a brief description of what makes it outstanding. We don't mean these distinctions to be restrictive; just because a site is "the meatiest" doesn't mean that it can't also be funny, comprehensive, full of good links. But we hope the descriptions will provide an easy way for you to find the most relevant sites.
When two sites tie in a category, such as CBSMarketWatch.com and CNNfn.com for best financial news, we show you what differentiates them; again, the goal is to direct you toward the site that's best for your needs. And to avoid repetition, we've assumed all site addresses start with "www."
Because of our focus on content, we did not cover e-commerce sites. Although it might have been entertaining to sit at our desks and shop, that's not what we're about. In the spirit of fun, however, we did add a category called "Diversions"1sites that represent some of the best ways to idle away a half hour. We didn't call these "Best of," because we tested them in a slightly different way: Did they captivate our attention? (AtomFilms's repertoire of short live and animated movies, at atomfilms.com, is just one example.)
In addition, we went into greater depth this year. Our encapsulations are longer, describing what we like about a site and (sometimes) what we don't. When you go to a foreign country, a good guidebook will tell you what museums to see and also which days they're closed. That's what we tried to do, to tell you just where to go and what to find.
Occasionally, that meant getting into some technical details. In the search-engine category, staff writer Chipp Winston lays out a clear explanation of how search engines actually work1and why they sometimes don't. Understanding these mechanisms will help you pick the engine that's right for your particular task.
Alison Rogers, Project Editor
Copyright Brill Media Ventures, L.P. 1999