Facebook's Open Social Graph: I still don't care much for Facebook but I think the open social graph is a fantastic development. Information streams and sharing on Facebook itself are too eclectic and unorganizable to be useful. Being able to add your social graph on top of third parties like CNN, ESPN and Netflix however unlocks filtered personalized information in a clear and actionable way that was previously very difficult because people didn't want to have to re-register and rebuild friends on every website. I know a lot of people fear Facebook's instant personalization but I think it's incredibly useful.
Flipboard: The Flipboard iPad application is incredibly transformative for social sharing, news publications and the iPad all at once. It is a beautiful way to interact with Twitter and Facebook and consume personalized news streams. It's a very clean + seamless + intuitive way to browse news in a way that no other publication has achieved yet. I'm not sold on it being a comprehensive reading solution (no two-way sync with Google Reader is a deal-breaker) but it's the most pleasurable way to read Twitter and Facebook by far and it single-handedly sells people on buying a tablet computer.
Foursquare: I used to think Foursquare was about serendipitous meetings with friends but now I realize that's just a very small beginning. Foursquare is all about signaling trusted parties that you are in a specific location, and triggering valuable localized + personalized + timely information. That might be the location of a nearby friend, a deal from a brand, history from a database, news from a publication or more. We are just beginning to see the possibilities of smart people creating valuable products on-top of simple location sharing. I also love what Foursquare has done with it's API's- with 3rd parties like Foodspotting and Instagram being able to pass all sorts of data to Foursquare the personal history archiving is really amazing as well.
Google Chrome: Google did for browsers what it did for email, search and maps before- rewrite and redefine capability and expectations for the entire industry. The Chrome browser is a million times faster, lighter and more powerful than any browser before it and has sent waves of progress thru it's competiors. I am positive I save hours a week working and browsing on the web thanks to Google Chrome. I can't wait to see what Google does in 2011 in turning the browser even more into a fully featured OS (Google if you're reading this please send me a CR-48).
Quora: These guys managed to build a community where important people with fairly exclusive information feel motivated to share it. Because of Quora we are all learning things that we may never have thought we'd have access to. That's a pretty valuable creation. It's rapidly joining Twitter as the source for finding and sharing information for journalists, so though it's very niche now I'm sure it will grow significantly next year.
Groupon: The deals are great, sure, but the exciting impact is the larger influence Groupon is having on helping advance advertising from being about forcing impressions to offering real value. Groupon isn't the only way this is happening, but it's a big one. The deals space is now cluttered and competitive (and potentially overhyped) so it will be interesting to see what happens in 2011 but the lasting effect of consumers expecting value-driven reasons for trying a product is here to stay.
Google Docs: I've been an advocate for Google Docs for years, but the features Google launched for it in 2010 put it over the top. Completely real-time synchronized group editing, full document compatibility (at least with file storage), and mobile access all make Google Docs an incredibly powerful work/life tool that I use almost exclusively over Microsoft Office. It's just one of the many ways my computer experience is moving entirely to the cloud.
Streaming Music: In 2010 streaming music almost entirely replaced mp3's for me. Sites like Pandora and TheSixtyOne give me access to great music without having to deal with transferring files from device to device, hard-drive to hard-drive. They also enable me to discover more new music easier than ever before. The faster music moves to the cloud the better- I can't wait how Google and Apple enter the space this year with cloud-based music offerings (I wrote more about streaming music in an earlier post).
So that's my list, what do you think? What are your favorite Internet things from 2010 and why?