16+ of the best things to happen to the internet in 2013

To bring karmic balance after yesterday’s bile-dripping 15 worst things to happen to the internet in 2013, here’s a bumper crop of joy.

It’s all very well looking forward to next year and seeing what technological advancements will improve our lives significantly in the future, but if we don’t look back at what came before and collate them in an arbitrary order within the confines of a blog-post, then surely we are doomed to repeat our mistakes because we didn’t spend long enough dwelling over our collective achievements

And if that’s not a specious excuse for a list-based round-up of the year, then call me Alex Zane and give me a job of presenting mediocre YouTube videos on the telly at 2am.

Here are the best things to happen to the internet in 2013, in our award-winning content team’s not-quite-so-humble opinion.

Vine

Twitter launched its entry into the social video arena with Vine in January 2013, and it was quickly seized by amateur film-makers…

…and corporate brands alike.

Vine became the most used video-sharing app in the market within a couple of months, and continues to be one of the most innovative platforms for advertisers to experiment on. Here are the best branded Vines of 2013.

HTML5 scrolling websites that smack you in the face with beauty

Suddenly the internet feels a lot more like a beautiful, expansive and almost intimidatingly immersive place.

Wow.

Just Wow.

And even wower.

Chris Lake reveals 12 more wonderful examples of online storytelling.

Bob Dylan’s interactive music video

Dylan wasn’t the only artist bored of the standard, easily uploadable YouTube approach to music video production, with many other artists releasing amazing interactive music videos in 2013.

But the irascible and increasingly innovative Mr Robert Allen Zimmerman certainly made the best one with his 48 years late ‘Like a Rolling Stone’.

Click on the above image to hear The Price is Right’s co-presenter telling you how you now don’t seem so proud about ‘scrounging for your next meal’.

The Onion’s increasingly bizarre Taylor Swift romance articles 

I have to thank The Bygone Bureau for reminding me about this one. The Onion completely eviscerates celebrity culture with its highly inventive and hilarious running joke about the obsession over Taylor Swift’s ongoing romantic strife.

My favourite: ‘Taylor Swift apparently now dating Garfield creator Jim Davis.’

That’s some extraordinary Photoshopping there, guys.

Google Analytics updates

As Graham Charlton reported in October, Google announced 14 new Analytics features, and in his follow-up post he revealed the most significant ones, according to our panel of experts.

These include:

  • Demographic reports – you can now segment by age, gender and interests.
  • Improved educational content – every feature in Google Analytics now has its own walkthrough video, encouraging the user to learn on the go.
  • Google Tag Manager – no more custom JavaScript. Auto-Event Tracking allows Google Tag Manager users to ‘listen’ for events on the page without adding any custom code before sending data to Google Analytics or other tags. 
  • Universal Analytics – it’s now easier to make the migration from ‘classic’.

Beyoncé

Beyoncé’s surprise fifth album was released last Friday exclusively on iTunes without any promotional marketing whatsoever and it broke all digital music records in a single weekend.

Beyoncé is the new Radiohead. Now if only Radiohead could become the new Kelis, we’d all be happy.

Gmail hacks

If you haven’t spent much time in the Labs section of your Gmail settings lately (other email providers are available), there’s some corking stuff in there at the moment.

Graham Charlton mentions the brilliant ‘are you sure you meant to send that email without an attachment’ pop-up in his article on tiny UX elements that make a big difference and here’s another great one. You can stop messages from being sent for a few seconds after hitting the send button.

Also did you know that any dots in the name part of your email address don’t actually matter? If you remove them, the email will still send. Life improved 0.25%.

Reddit’s ‘What is the creepiest thing your child has ever said to you?’

We’re big Redditors in the office, so it’s hard to pick a favourite. I’ll just go for the one that had the most disturbing effect on me.

Do not read this late into the night. I warn you.

The backlash against prankvertising

Ha ha ha… look, that poor girl is really scared. Ho ho ho, look at that old man stumbling to the ground in pure terror… 

Prankvertising took the advertising world by literal surprise in 2013 and I’m not sure whether it’s the potential cruelty I hate about it the most, or whether it’s just the fact these things are so obviously faked. I discuss it more here in these six examples of prankvertising.

The best outcome from this trend however is John St.’s hilarious reaction of its own. 

Social media fails

Best practice dictates that we should all learn from our mistakes. Therefore I include social media fails not out ofschadenfreude, more as a lesson in what not to do. Although let’s not be under any illusion that many of these weren’t deeply entertaining.

For every Waterstone’s Oxford Street there’s a Ryanair, for every Oreo, there’s a British Gas. There’s so many to pick from, and David Moth rounds up the most notorious ones in his 16 top social media fails of 2013, but personally I’d be hard pressed to choose between the following.

Benadryl’s interactive pollen count map that led to crowd-sourced childishness:

Or Nokia New Zealand finally losing it’s rag and leaving this simple, yet really quite affecting tweet on its feed.

Ikea’s augmented reality app

Ikea took AR and gave it the most practical ecommerce application yet.

Put your catalogue on the floor, point your smartphone device at the catalogue, boom you have a new sofa.

I may be missing out a few steps here, but this horrendously twee advert fills in most of the gaps.

Responsive design

We love responsive design and we’re not afraid to hide our feelings about it neither (14 brands that increased conversion with responsive design, 10 more examples of brands that adopted responsive design).

If you haven’t spent hours dragging the corners of The Boston Globe to manipulate the shape of its content than you clearly have something much better to do with your life. Well stop that right now and click below.

Also this year The Onion’s sister website The AV Club had a brilliant responsive overhaul.

Sony’s willful sarcasm

This video from Sony followed the controversial revelation that the Xbox One would not allow players to swap or play previously owned games.

Look at those nerds with a sense of humour. They will be kings of us all one day, just you wait and see. 

James Blunt’s trolling masterclass

I hate to say it, but James Blunt won at Twitter this year.

Clawing back a modicum of integrity and relevance, with a single-handed Twitter campaign that maybe, just maybe, might help save his career.

iOS7

Hang the nay-sayers. It’s been three months now, and therefore an eon in digital terms, so you’ve had plenty of time to get used to the flat design, the lack of unfashionable chrome, Find My iPhone improvements and, joy of joys, a clock app that tells you the right time on the home screen.

Here are eight user experience improvements in iOS7.

Super awkward montage of students mistaking video for a stills camera

I could watch this crap all day.

To finish, let’s hand things over to our loyal and extremely helpful Twitter followers, who provided us with their own highlights of 2013: 

And I didn’t even get round to the gloriously social friendship of Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart. Oh well, maybe next year.

See you in 2014.

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16+ of the best things to happen to the internet in 2013

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