Site of the Year: WikiLeaks
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg may have been named Time’s Person of the Year, but it took him six years to change the web. Australian Internet activist Julian Assange did it in less than four. Although WikiLeaks doesn’t have half a billion users and isn’t one of the major time killers on the web, its release of hundreds of thousands of classified documents about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan changed the game in ways we are only starting to understand.
Best New Web/TV Application: Netflix
— Although Netflix’s Canadian selection pales in comparison to what you can get down in the States, the inexpensive on-demand streaming service has only been available north of the border for less than six months (give it time and you can expect things to get better.) Netflix is only $8 a month, which helps cut down on those expensive pay-per-view purchases when it’s – 30 C and you don’t want to head to the video store. The fact you can start/stop shows and movies on multiple devices (all three gaming consoles along with iPhones/iPads) is just another bonus. New blockbusters aren’t yet available, but there are enough titles to get your money’s worth.
Best Web-based Label: Marathon of Dope
Based out of Belgium and Winnipeg, Marathon of Dope has consistently released some of the best hip hop around. Where else can you find releases from Pip Skid, Nestor Wynrush, Speed Dial 7 and John Smith in a pay-what-you-want download model? More labels need to embrace the new era of the music industry the way MOD has.
Best Mobile Application: Foursquare
Gowalla might have been first out of the gate in Winnipeg, but its user base never really gained any momentum as most people who wanted to participate in a location-based friend-finder/city guide/mobile game were waiting for Foursquare to roll out. The buzz surrounding Foursquare made it easier for the company to get early adopters and curious smartphone users to not only download the app, but encourage and get their friends to do the same. Social-networking sites rely on people going where their friends are; both MySpace and Friendster can attest to that. One thing that has hampered the growth of Foursquare in Winnipeg is the fact that only a handful of businesses (mostly chains) have adopted the service and use it to attract customers. Hopefully the Downtown Biz can continue to encourage local businesses to get onboard.
Best Site Canadians (Still) Can’t Access: Hulu
For the third year running, Hulu.com takes top honours in this category. That isn’t a good thing for tech-savvy Canadians who want to better access to video content from the web. Free, on-demand streaming of TV over the Internet still has a long way to go, but Hulu represents a giant leap forward in delivering digital video. With support from the major networks, a slick interface and huge growth potential, the fact that this video portal is still only accessible to American users is a crime.
Site of the Year: WikiLeaks