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15 Websites That Changed the World 298

Posted by Zonk
from the shake-it-up dept.
nuke-alwin writes "To mark the web's 15th anniversary, The Guardian is reporting on 15 websites that changed the world. Everything from commercial sites like eBay and Amazon to social collaboratives like Wikipedia and Slashdot made the list." From the article's comments on Blogger: "Content was once made by companies for passive consumption by people. After Blogger, people were the content. They wrote about and read about their friends, their opinions, their cats. (There was a lot about cats in the early blogs.) None had a huge audience but collectively they were massive. Now you see TV networks saying: 'We've gotta get on the web because that's where the audience is,' says Williams."
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15 Websites That Changed the World

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  • by phorm (591458) on Monday August 14, 2006 @05:44PM (#15906241) Journal
    Not all these changes have been positive. In terms of large-scale changes along those lines I'd probably include the nasties such as doubleclick and whatnot. They've definately had a lasting impression on how advertising is done on the 'net (regardless of poor motives or whether it was a possitive impression)
  • (Score:4, Insightful)

    by muftak (636261) on Monday August 14, 2006 @05:48PM (#15906280) wasn't really a website that changed the world, napster was a bit of software that changed the world.
  • Quibbler (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Paladin144 (676391) on Monday August 14, 2006 @05:49PM (#15906282) Homepage
    I'm gonna have to quibble (stand back everyone!).

    #3 -

    Ummm... I don't think anybody was going there because of the website. Napster was technically a program that you downloaded and installed on your computer. It used different ports than good ol' 80 and it was not a website in any recognizable way.

    Nothing wrong with Napster, I'm just sayin'!... If we let in, then why not let in?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 14, 2006 @05:51PM (#15906312), the site that basically invented the idiom of political blogging five years early, and mocked and on those sites' rise into faddishness among the "old media".

    But, of course, a site like Suck would never show up on a list like this. An article about this is basically a shrine to media enthusiasm about the internet-- a validation of the idea that the importance of a website can be measured by the significance that established pre-internet information sources (like The Guardian) attach to it. In such a context, we are of course not going to reward the people who tried to look at the internet as what it actually was, rather than what the media made it out to be.
  • (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Crowhead (577505) on Monday August 14, 2006 @05:54PM (#15906331)
    Here's how Napster changed the world: It made a generation of young people think that getting music for free was practically a birthright.
  • (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 14, 2006 @05:56PM (#15906358) was a classic- more of a service than a website, but it was just one of those things that made anonymnity accesable (and yes, I did post this as AC)
  • Hey... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 14, 2006 @06:09PM (#15906473)
    Hey, don't forget me!
  • Re:15 Years ago... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by garcia (6573) on Monday August 14, 2006 @06:18PM (#15906545) Homepage
    John Romero wrote better games

    Everyone wrote better games then. 10 years ago Romero came out with the best game at the time in a genre that has unforunately stuck around with people believing each one is "new".
  • by dueyfinster (872608) on Monday August 14, 2006 @06:19PM (#15906547) Homepage
    13. - changed the Internet maybe. The WORLD? nah

    Changed the web, yes, the internet is their next target [].....
  • Re:Tim Berners-Lee (Score:3, Insightful)

    by WindBourne (631190) on Monday August 14, 2006 @06:22PM (#15906558) Journal
    That is not necessarily true. it is only now, that the book is heading towards obsolescence. For all these centuries, the book has been needed throughout the world. Once a tech is outmoded, then the history tends to be forgotten. After all, how many here can name those that developed ftp, gopher (who, not where), slip (the forerunner to PPP) or SGML (the true foundation of HTML)? And I mean without googling it.

    The web will probably go to the side within another 20 years. Once it does, Tim and others will be a foot note in history within 100 years.
  • Re:first off... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Babbster (107076) <> on Monday August 14, 2006 @06:27PM (#15906602) Homepage
    ...websites don't change the world. I mean come on. The Internet as a whole, ok.

    It does little good to have an Internet if there are no reasons to use it. Several of the sites in their list would qualify as "killer apps," causing someone to buy a PC and hook it up to the Internet where they otherwise wouldn't have done so.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 14, 2006 @06:37PM (#15906664)
    Please can people stop saying this! The Guardian is a UK newspaper, the list is a bit eurocentric. EasyJet are MASSIVE and have most definitely changed the way people fly in Europe. Do some research before posting your American-centric drivel.
  • by Infonaut (96956) <> on Monday August 14, 2006 @06:42PM (#15906708) Homepage Journal

    From Wikipedia []:

    Upon reopening on June 3, 2006, its number of visitors has doubled, the increased popularity attributed to greater exposure through the recent media coverage. This has in turn increased the advertisement revenues to the founders Gottfrid Svartholm and Fredrik Neij. The advertisements now generate about 75,000 USD per month according to speculations by Swedish newspaper SvD.

    I guess you could call that "sticking it to the man." You could also call it profiting. Perhaps a bit less Robin Hood and a bit more ticket scalper.

  • by pan_sapiens (647704) on Monday August 14, 2006 @07:08PM (#15906887) Homepage
    .. and yet the mainstream media persist on calling it one, along with kazaa, grokster etc etc.

    Phrases like "the music swapping website kazza" are all two frequent in the media. I find this really depressing because it highlights the general lack of understanding of technologies which the authors then proceed to make value judgements about.

    Most of this is old news to Slashdotters, but just in case a "journalist" reads this post (yeh, right):
    • Napster / Kazaa etc are not websites. They were peer-to-peer filesharing networks, and associated software. After they were shutdown by legal action, the trademarks were retained and used to market services which sell music.
    • They were filesharing networks. This means potentially any data stored on a a computer, legal or illegal, can be shared. Not just music.
    • It's not file swapping, it's sharing. In a swap, two parties exchange goods. If I share a file with you, I do not lose a copy of it, and you don't need to offer me anything in return.

    When anyone calls Napster a "website", they quickly expose that they have no experience with the software they are talking about.

    Eh, got that off my chest, despite being a bit OT ..
  • by kfg (145172) * on Monday August 14, 2006 @07:09PM (#15906897)
    9., 1., 15. (Budget airline) - Online commerce is important, but there were many pioneers.

    The importance of Amazon and eBay is not that they do online commerce, but that they link small sellers to the international market through a single, searchable site.

    Amazon changed the world of used books, not the world of the latest best seller.

    eBay changed the world of collectibles and small craftsmen.

  • Geocities (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Trespass (225077) on Monday August 14, 2006 @08:16PM (#15907268) Homepage
    Yeah, Geocities. A lot of people made their first (crappy) webpage there and got their feet wet that way.
  • by jeffsenter (95083) on Monday August 14, 2006 @08:23PM (#15907289) Homepage
    I think the list is pretty good, but it is missing what got the web started in large part, porn. I don't mean to be a troll, but early in the web's commercial development porn was a big fraction of the business, perhaps a third of the web. I do not know if there is a single pioneering porn website that could be listed with the likes of eBay, Yahoo, and craigslist, but porn's role should not be forgotten.

    P.S. I think Yahoo should be ranked higher. Yahoo was a leader in searching and portalness. also maybe should have made the list over say or
  • by kfg (145172) * on Monday August 14, 2006 @11:17PM (#15908022)
    I work in a huge new and used bookstore ( and have done so long before Amazon existed.

    Oddly enough my favorite, local independent opened the same years as Powell's. I've been their customer since the first day the door opened. I certainly don't order online from them (although I could) since I can just walk over to the store.

    If I'm after a best seller I can grab it there, any other bookstore, or even the supermarket. I don't buy that sort of book online unless I already happen to be online shopping. People, by and large, buy them where they happen to be when the mood takes them to buy (which might be online or off).

    But I just looked up one of my favorite, obscure, out of print titles at Powell's and drew a blank.

    Looking up the same title at Amazon I can choose between the English or American printings at a variety of prices, because Amazon is not a bookseller, it is a bookseller's market. I do not buy the book from Amazon, I buy it from an independent through Amazon.

  • by Kinetix303 (471831) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @01:19AM (#15908349) Homepage

    Okay. So did Coca Cola and Kleenex change the world?

    Uh... yes. Absolutely.

  • by new500 (128819) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @03:09AM (#15908589)
    and on a philosophical note:

      - we got time to do stuff in the real world whilst out little modems crackled away . . .even if it was only to rant to baffled friends about this newfangled CSS thing . . .

      - our girlfriends & family didn't (on the whole) care for the intarweb and so we didn't have to run about cleaning windows sypware, lest we be accused of evil voodoo for sitting near their machine . . .leaving us at least one fewer thing to get in the way of, well . . . normal relations . .

      - world + dog didn't call asking for a myspace / bebo type site thinking they could host it on a virtual account for $20pcm. They did of course want flash animations *everywhere* but that could be fixed by handing the nearest pre-teen a graphics tablet or, if a deadline, drinking waaay too much the night before setting the design . . .

      - right up until they got into the advertising game, we could believe Google's altruistic mantra . .

      - "thin edge" or highly targeted media sounded a really good thing (at least it did if you worked in print publishing), and being cocooned in a geek world, (or pre - AOL joining the fun) we could still believe - just a bit - that shock jocks, neo-nazis, political wierdos of all kinds might not turn the whole game into a ego-stroking cacophony muffled only by commercial interest plays & lawsuits, and yet more recently internet aware (as opposed to savvy) special interest pressure groups.

      - we gave our old (working) crap to charity rather than spending a week answering questions already answered in 72pt bold typeface on an ebay listing. (and corrolary i wonder if we didn't accumulate less crap, because we couldn't flip a ill advised purchase on ebay .. )

      - last (well not last, but before i start asking "does anybody here remember Vera Lynn?") only a few of us ever had to debate copyright and trademark law in earnest - and they actually got paid for it. Added because i still see no horizon for such concerns actually becoming a voting issue.

Often statistics are used as a drunken man uses lampposts -- for support rather than illumination.