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Millenial web milestones

Millenial web milestones — The best sites from the first eleven months of the 21st century

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Millenial web milestones

In selecting the best Websites of the 21st century — all 11 months of it — we bore on our keyboards the full historical weight of recent movie, TV, music, and comedy trends. Experts were consulted and arguments were heard, but in the end we threw all that nonsense out and went with our guts. After much deliberation, here’s what we think was new and great, Web-wise, in the year 2000. And quite a year it was.

The post-Blair Witch era awakened studios to new possibilities, and taught them that promotional sites don’t have to be costly, uninspired digital billboards. The TV networks discovered survivorsucks.com, and thus the course of television sites was at last ruled by fans. A music revolution — led by last year’s new new thing, Napster — helped the Smashing Pumpkins skirt their record label and bring their unreleased music to the masses, and the American Revolution went hip-hop with the help of Flash animation. There were also sites that defied categorization — like that litmus test of pop culture, the Yahoo! Buzz Index — and we’ve found a place for even them in this new century.

”Artists are using the medium to take the power back,” says Tiffany Shlain, founder of the Webby Awards (webbyawards.com). Not everyone will agree with our picks. But we hope you’ll find them enlightening, even surprising. Luckily, the next century doesn’t officially start until the end of this month — when we begin thinking about a whole new batch of great sites.

REQUIEM FOR A DREAM (requiemforadream.com)
LAUNCHED Aug. 18, 2000. Director Darren Aronofsky chose feeling over function on the site for his harrowing drug-addiction drama. Although you won’t find cast bios or even a plot synopsis, the site’s abstract change of seasons and eerie background music give you a feel for the film’s emotional content.
NOW YOU KNOW Aronofsky first heard about the site’s U.K.-based designers from his seatmate on a plane to L.A.

THE VIRGIN SUICIDES(virginsuicides.com)
LOCATION Beverly Hills, Calif.
LAUNCHED Nov. 23, 1999. To build buzz for Sofia Coppola’s directorial debut, the site rolled out slowly with four thematic collages and electronica music by AIR.
NOW YOU KNOW The collages and titles for the film were created by snowboard designer Geoff McFetridge.

NURSE BETTY (nurse-betty.com)
LOCATION Beverly Hills, Calif.
LAUNCHED July 21, 2000. This peek into the e-mailbox of the film’s hit-man-in-training led to five other fake sites.
NOW YOU KNOW The copy on Askahitman.com and reasontolove.com was written by Harvard Lampoon graduates.

UNBREAKABLE (areyouunbreakable.com)
CREATOR Buena Vista Pictures
LOCATION Los Angeles
LAUNCHED July 15, 2000. The true-sounding survivor tales and made-for-the-Web documentary clip of a woman falling out of an airplane will raise the hair on your neck.
NOW YOU KNOW The documentary is fake, but the survivor tales are culled from real people.

X-MEN (www.mutantwatch.com)
CREATOR Internet Marketing, Twentieth Century Fox
LOCATION Los Angeles
LAUNCHED February 2000. The official site of bigoted Senator Kelly included a realistic campaign commercial — which was mailed to every senator and congressman in Washington — and links to scientific studies of mutant life forms.
NOW YOU KNOW Those studies were real, and the scientists got lots of inquisitive e-mail.

SMASHING PUMPKINS BEST (smashingpumpkins.com)
CREATORS Pumpkins frontman Billy Corgan and former executive creative director of Atomic Pop, Jim Evans.
LOCATION Los Angeles
LAUNCHED May 2000. The official site for the Teflon alterna-rockers has created a loyal cyber-fan base dedicated to wrapping their heads around the underlying messages and philosophies embedded in the site. The forums are always packed with philosophical ramblings, and the band released a trove of live and rare songs online.
NOW YOU KNOW Though it created one of the most innovative (and involved) official sites for a big-name band, Atomic Pop fizzled on Sept.

CREATORS Jimmy Iovine, cochair of Interscope Geffen A&M Records, and Doug Morris, Universal Music Group’s chair-CEO
LOCATION Los Angeles
LAUNCHED February 2000. Boasting an ear-pleasing mix of radio staples and fledgling acts, the make-or-breakers attracted viewers the old-fashioned way: through their TV show.
NOW YOU KNOW FarmClub is one of the only places to hear Smash Mouth covering House of Pain’s ”Jump Around.”

SLIMSHADY WORLD (slimshadyworld.com)
CREATORS The real Slim Shady himself, Eminem, though it’s managed by hip-hop-heavy Web design firm Hookt.
LOCATION New York City
LAUNCHED August 2000. What better place is there than the Web for such a controversial voice? Truth is, Mr. Mathers is far less nasty online than you’d expect him to be.
NOW YOU KNOW Executive producer Em provides voices for two of the characters in the site’s original cartoons.

U2 ONLINE (u2.com)
CREATORS World Online, Good Technology, and Digital CC Limited
LOCATION Netherlands, England, Ireland
LAUNCHED November 2000. Three to 4 million viewers pop in each day for their fill of U2 news, history, and, of course, loads of music.
NOW YOU KNOW In order to show the men at work in the studios creating the just-released All You Can’t Leave Behind, a temporary site with webcams went up in July.

RADIOHEAD (www.radiohead.com)
CREATOR Radiohead
LAUNCHED 1998. From offering their latest album, Kid A, for download, to being ardent supporters of fan sites, their official home (updated constantly) is as forward-thinking as their music.
NOW YOU KNOW You can buy concert tickets here; they’re usually the best in the house.

SURVIVORSUCKS.COM BEST (survivorsucks.com)
LAUNCHED May 2000. Equal parts rumor mill, educated guesses, and recap, survivorsucks.com mixed sarcasm with an obsessive streak peculiar to the information-wants-to-be-free ethos of the Net. Its most Hatch-ian feat was not in the reporting, though; it’s that the site itself became an integral part of Survivor mania.
NOW YOU KNOW The site was ground zero for the Gervase/red X theory about the show’s winner.

CREATORS Simon Assaad, David Carson
LOCATION New York City
LAUNCHED December 1999. These cameo-rich mockumentaries feature the kind of hilariously ribald narrations (”The blown-out elastic band of Sisqo’s thongy empire could only stretch so far”) that the real series could use in healthy doses.
NOW YOU KNOW Britney Spears and the Bloodhound Gang have seen their BTMTS segments — and loved them.

MALCOLM IN THE MIDDLE (fox.com/malcolminthemiddle)
LOCATION Los Angeles
LAUNCHED January 2000. Instead of the typically boring episode summaries, the show’s official site presents the synopses as Malcolm’s simple-yet-sweet diary entries — with the occasional wacko revelation tucked inside, of course.
NOW YOU KNOW Members of the show’s writing team have been known to pen the uncredited episode recaps you’ll find on the site.

BIG BROTHER (bigbrother2000.com)
CREATOR Circle.com, in association with AOL
LOCATION Dulles, Va.
LAUNCHED July 2000. Though the show was worse than an anesthetic-less trip to the dentist, the site, with its live camera feeds operational 24/7 (including the ubiquitous chickencam), encouraged a legion of Net-savvy Peeping Toms.
NOW YOU KNOW The writers and editors of the website ”met” the guests at the same time as the viewing public; the housemates’ identities were kept secret until they moved in.

WHO WANTS TO BE A MILLIONAIRE (abc.go.com/primetime/millionaire/millionaire_home.html)
LOCATION Los Angeles
LAUNCHED January 2000. Providing Millionaire junkies with a trivia outlet, the site offers an online game, complete with cheesy music, and a play-along version when the show airs. Sorry, no prize money for keyboard jockeys.
NOW YOU KNOW The online Millionaire game has been played more than 140 million times.

F***EDCOMPANY.COM — THE DOT-COM DEADPOOL (f***edcompany.com)
CREATOR Philip ”Pud” Kaplan
LOCATION New York City
LAUNCHED June 2000. When a website goes to the big dotcom graveyard in the sky, F***edCompany — the asterisks are ours — provides the wiseass postmortem. Aside from keeping track of the latest Web dodo birds, F***edCompany doubles as a dead pool, with Pud assigning point values to each Internet corpse.
NOW YOU KNOW F***edCompany gatherings are popping up, Fight Club-style, in cities across the country.

(INSIDE) (inside.com)
CREATORS Kurt Andersen, Michael Hirschorn, Deanna Brown
LOCATION New York City
LAUNCHED June 2000. With round-the-clock updates and in-depth media reportage, Inside.com tries to upstage old-world stalwarts like Variety. Thing is, they’re succeeding.
NOW YOU KNOW In just its first few months, Inside.com broke major scoops on everything from the Friends cast’s salary negotiations to the Vivendi/Seagram deal.

YAHOO! BUZZ INDEX (buzz.yahoo.com)
CREATOR Yahoo.com
LOCATION Santa Clara, Calif.
LAUNCHED October 2000. Using Google’s search engine as their man on the inside, the Buzz Index tracks the sites and subjects that move and shake. A favorite of the hipsteratti.
NOW YOU KNOW While The WB’s Nielsen numbers aren’t much to buzz about, the net’s shows often pop up in the Index’s top 10 TV slots.

ZOMBIE COLLEGE (icebox.com)
CREATOR Eric Kaplan
LOCATION Los Angeles
LAUNCHED June 2000. Animal House meets Night of the Living Dead in this animated comedy, where making it with a coed means taking off your thinking cap.
NOW YOU KNOW Kaplan is a producer for Fox’s Futurama.

MODERN HUMORIST (modernhumorist.com)
CREATORS John Aboud, Michael Colton
LOCATION New York City
LAUNCHED April 2000. From the perfectly pitched fall TV previews to MP3 parodies like The Legend of Bagger Dance, Humorist is the most media-savvy non-newspaper around.
NOW YOU KNOW All the ads on Modern Humorist are fake.

THE DECLARATION (jibjab.com)
CREATORS Evan and Gregg Spiridellis
LAUNCHED July 4, 2000. The founding fathers were this country’s original gangstas, and there’s no funnier proof than this animated hip-hop tribute to them.
NOW YOU KNOW Schoolhouse Rock was an early influence on the Spiridellis brothers.