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Judging the top 10 Internet moments of the decade

The folks behind the Webby Awards hail the iPhone, Twitter, and Craigslist as stirring some of the most influential developments of the decade. We offer some picks of our own.

The unveiling of the iPhone, the debut of Twitter, and the growth of Craigslist are just three of the decade's most influential Internet moments, as judged by the Webby Awards.

The folks behind the Webby Awards, presented each year for excellence on the Internet, dove into the top 10 craze this week, laying out their picks for the Internet developments of the past 10 years that have had the greatest reverberations. (And no, they're not a year ahead of schedule, despite the tendency of list makers to rally in years that end in '10. The decade technically runs from 2000 to 2009, with 2010 being the start of the next decade.)

The Webby Awards rundown of the decade in chronological order:

  • Craigslist moving outside San Francisco in 2000 to revamp the whole notion of classified ads, striking fear in the hearts of newspapers everywhere.
  • The launch of Google AdWords in 2000, opening up a new world of advertising for businesses both large and small.
  • The start of Wikipedia in 2001 showing off the Internet's ability to let online strangers collaborate, leading to more than 14 million articles in 271 different languages.
  • The takedown of Napster in 2001, triggering a revolution in the way we now grab our music and videos.
  • Google's IPO in 2004, creating a massive, dominant, and far-reaching force on the Internet.
  • The online video revolution in 2006 triggered by beefy bandwidth, cheap camcorders, and YouTube, flooding cyberspace with an array of professional and not-so-professional videos.
  • The expansion of Facebook and the debut of Twitter in 2006, creating a fresh way for us to interact and communicate with friends and family.
  • The launch of the iPhone in 2007, helping us hop onto the Internet anywhere, anytime through a cell phone.
  • The U.S. presidential campaign in 2008 tapping into the Internet with videos like "Obama Girl," social networking use among voters, and online fundraising.
  • The Iranian election protesters in 2009 using Twitter to spread their word, a movement that prompted the U.S. State Department to ask Twitter to keep the site up and running.

That's a pretty good list, but of course it immediately started us thinking about the influential Internet-related moments and developments from 2000 to 2009 that got short shrift or that got left off entirely.

Our list, in no particular order:

  • The debut and growth of Firefox: The first browser to challenge the IE monopoly, Firefox now holds a 25 percent market share, paving the way for other players like Google Chrome.
  • The arrival of blogging: Started as simple online diaries, blogs have grown to become a valid and valued source of news, opinion, and information. As a corollary, there's the rise of RSS, which lets the latest information come to us instead of our having to go out and find it.
  • The surge in broadband: The availability of DSL, cable, satellite, and now Fios put a nail in the coffin for dial-up access, letting us download files in seconds, watch each other on webcams, and stream high-res videos.
  • The allure of torrents: Whether used for legal or illegal file sharing, technologies like BitTorrent let us share and download all types of content across the Web from movies and TV shows to software. And speaking of movies and TV--the popularity of sites like Hulu and Netflix demonstrated that you no longer need a costly cable TV subscription to indulge your viewing inclinations.
  • The reinvention of the telephone. On the one hand, there were VoIP services such as Skype, which saved us from expensive long-distance bills. On the other was 3G technology and mobile broadband, which let us jump into cyberspace from our phones, Netbooks, and a host of other portable gadgets.
  • The rise of home workers: Thanks to the Internet, you can now run a full-fledged business or work for your employer without having to leave the house. There's also online education--with many accredited schools now online, today you can attend college or graduate school and get a full degree from your own computer.
  • The ascent of Salesforce and cloud computing: With the success of cloud-computing providers like Salesforce, companies can now run much of their business online without the hassle of maintaining their own internal resources.
  • The looming menace of cyberwarfare: On the downside, the Internet showed signs of becoming a new virtual battleground between countries, as in the purported cyberattacks against Estonia and Georgia.
  • The lessons of the dot-com crash: The decade was barely under way when that bubble burst hard; wildly inflated stocks were tanking and Wall Street was reeling, frenetically hyped Web companies were imploding, and our retirement plans took a beating. That seem so long ago now, what with the current miserable state of the economy, post-housing bubble crash.

Do you agree or disagree with those picks? Sound off in the comments section below.