Originally published by Dan Mitchell in the New York Times on December 30, 2006:
AS any media consumer knows, this is the season of the list. Dan Hunter of the blog Terra Nova, which focuses on virtual worlds and online gaming, notes that late December “is the point where lazy editors tell their lazy pundits to knock out a couple of hundred words structured around the topic: ‘Top Ten Moments in X for 2006,’ ” where X stands for the subject the media outlet covers (terranova.blogs.com).
In the blogosphere, the top 10 moments of 2006 tend to involve navel gazing. Kyle Bunch of Blogebrity.com offered his list of the “Top 10 Blogebrities of 2006” to Laist.com. They included Jason Calacanis, the founder of Weblogs, and Kevin Rose, the founder of Digg.com. At No. 1: Ze Frank, whose daily videos take on subjects ranging from trade sanctions on North Korea to which fresh fruits are best for wearing on your fingers (zefrank.com/theshow).
Most of the lists, though, are much more down to Earth. CNNMoney.com proffered the 10 “best and worst” technology stocks. The best: Nvidia, a maker of graphics chips whose shares doubled this year. The worst: ADC Telecommunications, whose stock has fallen by more than a third.
Advertising Age commissioned the Consumerist to write up “Top 10 Biggest Business Debacles” of 2006. The Consumerist did not include, say, the implosion of Amaranth Advisors, a hedge fund that lost $6.6 billion in bad bets on natural gas futures.
Rather, the No. 1 debacle was when an AOL customer service representative refused to cancel a customer’s account. That customer, Vincent Ferrari, recorded the call, and much to AOL’s chagrin, posted it online. “Subsequently,” the Consumerist notes, “AOL began to hemorrhage subscribers at record levels” (consumerist.com).
Consumeraffairs.org listed the year’s top 10 scams. If you believe the recent barrage of spam promoting pump-and-dump stock schemes must be at No. 1, you’re mistaken: it’s No. 6. The biggest scam based on complaints the site collected was the fake-lottery swindle, which promised victims (again, often via spam) that they had won money in a Canadian or European lottery. Targets were duped into sending money to cover insurance or taxes.
Some lists are particularly esoteric. The European-focused Tech Digest lists what it thinks are the top 10 “retro gadgets” of the year. Its No. 1 pick: the SpeckTone iPod docking station, which looks like “that ‘wireless’ your grandparents had,” but “is every bit the modern docking station” (techdigest.tv).
Looking back is only half the fun. Predictions for the coming year make up the other half.
Business 2.0 offers “15 Surprises Ahead in 2007.” At the top: “India and China race to the moon.” At No. 8: the release of Windows Vista, “bug fixes willing” (business2.com).
The burgeoning online-marketing blog ShoeMoney predicts that in 2007, Microsoft will acquire Yahoo, and offers 10 reasons. Most of them have to do with Microsoft being far behind Google and other competitors in areas including search technology, online video and social networking. ShoeMoney’s proprietor, Jeremy Schoemaker, believes Yahoo would give Microsoft a leg up (shoemoney.com).
Blogger “TDavid” offers a point-by-point rebuttal at MakeYouGoHmm.com.
Google says its top 10 searches this year were nearly all technology- or Web-focused. “Bebo” was the No. 1 search term, Google says. “MySpace” was No. 2.
Over at Yahoo, the results were a bit more, um, common. “Britney Spears” came out on top. “WWE” was No. 2. Other female celebrities made up most of the rest. AOL’s list showed that its users were more utilitarian, searching for “weather,” “dictionary” and “maps.”
“Looking back over the results,” writes Nicholas Carr on RoughType, “I think I can suggest the following market segmentation: Google users are dweebs. Yahoo users are horndogs. And AOL users are geezers” (roughtype.com).
A blogger at Business 2.0, though, notes that “these lists are essentially works of fiction produced by the search engines’ PR departments” (blogs.business2.com).