My Media Picks of the Decade
The inaugural decade of the new millennium proved to be as tumultuous, but no one can argue that it came and went without introducing gobs of fantastic media and entertainment. While by no means a definitive list, here are my personal favorites.
Favorite Web Site
No online service has changed the way I communicate more radically. Twitter trained me to expect immediacy in my communication tools, and opened my mind to the possibility of manipulating public data on the web. While lacking the ubiquity of Facebook, it’s influence is felt far more perceptibly in nearly all competitors.
Hopefully 2010 will bring enough UI improvements to make me consider using the actual site instead of apps like TweetDeck.
iPhone 3G (2008)
I resisted the temptation of this device for quite some time, until a horrific experience with Verizon customer service pushed me into switching to AT&T. In hindsight, I should really thank that terrible service rep (with bad tattoos and a fake tan) for giving me the opportunity to experience one of the best devices ever. The iPhone almost single-handedly pushed the mobile web out of the dark ages (or at least got the ball rolling) into a period of relative optimism.
While devices like the Motorola Droid and Palm Pre may soften the novelty of the iPhone’s interface, we can’t overestimate how influential it continues to be, due in no small part to a bustling app store economy that pushes it’s capabilities on a weekly basis. The next decade will almost certainly belong to the mobile web, and few can argue that the iPhone wasn’t a catalyst for that progression.
Plus, Doodle Jump is wicked addictive.
Bone (1991 - 2004)
Although Jeff Smith’s tale of the lost Bone cousins exploring a vast and mysterious valley started in the 1990s, it wasn’t completed until 2004. While the gorgeous color editions consistently top children’s best seller lists, I’m partial to the black-and-white collection for preserving the prominence of Smith’s incredible brushwork. Few cartoonists alive can match this level of believable acting and effortless storytelling. Superb.
Super Mario Galaxy (2007)
Leave it to Mario to remind me of why I love video games in the first place. Galaxy transported me to a fantastic, whimsical and positively surreal universe with exactly the right balance of fun and challenging gameplay. This game transcends mere entertainment and tiptoes into the realm of wondrous art and superb craftsmanship. No other title ate up more of my time this decade.
Wilco - Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (2002)
The band’s fourth LP has become nothing short of legendary, thanks in part to the drama played out between Wilco and Reprise Records (thoughtfully immortalized in an excellent documentary). While some of the album’s backstory has been unnecessarily mythologized, the attention it receives is beyond deserving. What songwriter Jeff Tweedy describes as “holes” in the songs can be truly challenging, but are never without reward. Perfect.
The Incredibles (2004)
While I have a tremendous amount of respect and admiration for Pixar, I was not prepared for how much I would enjoy Brad Bird’s debut film at the studio. The Incredibles reaffirmed my belief in the power of cartoony, expressive character design by crafting believable human characters in spite of their abstract structures (a fact that must have been truly embarrassing for the dismal yet purportedly “realistic” Polar Express film which debuted the same month).
While it certainly didn’t hurt that the story combined my love for superheroes with a healthy dose of pure Pixar warmth, what really struck me was the underlying anti-mediocrity subtext.
“Everybody’s special, Dash,” Helen says to her son, who replies “…which is another way of saying no one is.”