This past weekend, thousands of people stepped away from their computers and traveled to Las Vegas.
Sin City was this year’s home to the Blog World Expo, and geeks everywhere gathered not to gamble, but to talk about their social networking habits.
Every day, the Internet is gaining more recognition as not only a communication tool, but also as a legitimate industry. Conferences are being held to discuss Twitter and Facebook as outlets for both business and pleasure. Exploring how to exploit the web has taken the world by storm, with the first Twitter conference taking place last September in our own City of Angels.
Awards are continually given to honor the outstanding web participants that help us save time, as well as those that help us waste it. For example, Mashable, a popular Internet news blog, has become a Twitter trending topic with the hype surrounding its current Open Web Awards.
In the spirit of these events and ceremonies, I have decided to grace you with my personal recommendations from the almighty Internet. From ways to procrastinate to more ways to procrastinate, I give you the Jen Awards: Eleven sites none of us should live without.
Food Porn Daily: My homepage. This site is exactly what it sounds like, featuring daily close-up photos of food items, such as “Mini Pumpkin Cheesecakes with Graham Cracker Crust” and “Bacon Roasted Vegetable & Sprouted Lentil Salad with Dill Vinaigrette.” The site boasts that it is SFW (Safe For Work) and will make you drool more than anything sex-related will. www.foodporndaily.com
Hipster Runoff: The quintessential postmodern pop culture blog. Written by “Carles,” an anonymous blogger I secretly worship, Hipster Runoff is the perfect blend of news, ironic commentary and cult-level inside jokes. Common themes include American Apparel, indie bands and general cultural fallacies. www.hipsterrunoff.com
Tumblr: The social networking-blog hybrid from the creators of Twitter that takes up most of my spare time. Tumblr prides itself on being a quick and easy alternative to blogging, allowing simple posts of photos, videos, mp3s and more. Additionally, it offers a clean interface and cool community that brings more instant gratification (read: embeds instead of just links) than the Tweets of friends. www.tumblr.com
Stumble Upon: My personal favorite since freshman year, this site manages to make the infinite abyss that is the Internet seem smaller and smaller with every click. You create an account, choose some topics you’re interested in and the website does the rest, helping you discover diamonds in the rough. www.stumbleupon.com
Bing: Google, forgive me. Bing is underrated — a victim of the haters who think Microsoft can’t do anything right. In fact, the search engine is everything and then some. It features stunning photographs updated daily and factoids to go with them, a bit like Google Doodles everyday. Also, most people don’t know that the suite has a cashback program that gives you a large (sometimes 30 percent) refund for products you began searching for on Bing. Don’t be too afraid to make the switch, or at least give it a shot. www.bing.com
The Daily What: If you were unaware of all the things Venn diagrams could be used for, this site might shock you. If you were not aware of the number of meme Balloon Boy parodies that have recently surfaced, this site might shock you. If your favorite aspect of the Internet is simply the fact that someone spent precious moments of his time parodying YouTube videos just so you could have a laugh, The Daily What will definitely be up your alley. thedw.us
Sporcle: A collection of quizzes, from pop culture to ancient history. No offense to our fine institution, but this may be more educational than school — assuming our career goal is to be on Jeopardy. Recommended quiz: “Can you name the things Meatloaf won’t do for love?” www.sporcle.com
Lookbook.nu: Pictures of fashionistas from around the world, posted together to form a compilation of artsy, well-photographed clothing. Beware: Everyone on this website looks unbelievably chic, cool and sexy. It may even inspire you to dress up for class. www.lookbook.nu
Yelp: My Los Angeles Bible. If you need to know anything about any restaurant, organization or place of business, Yelp offers the Yellow Pages Internet style — users can post reviews, and, from my experience, the collective thoughts of Yelpers is always right. www.yelp.com
Hype Machine: A music blog aggregator that miraculously knows exactly what song you’ll be obsessed with next week. Free music, completely legal and utterly awesome. www.hypem.com
Human Calendar: This is completely unessential, but in so many ways explains precisely why it is impossible to grow sick of the Internet. The site is a fun twist on the classic, and somehow turns a month with numbered days into entertainment. Smiling is the cardinal rule of Jen Awards, and, albeit pointless, the Human Calendar is sure to make you grin. www.humancalendar.com
Jen Winston is a junior majoring in communication. Her column, “The Memeing of Life,” runs Tuesdays.