Very Short List helps surfers uncover the Web's collective cool


Finding the good stuff amid the clutter of the Internet just got easier.

Thanks to Very Short List (www.veryshortlist.com) I have a site of the day waiting for me every weekday morning. It's reminiscent of the many joke-of-the-day sites that spread like Nigerian lottery winner e-mails not so long ago -- only better.

These sites make me laugh, think, share and always leave me wanting more. They're a great mix of culture, current events, hipness and fun. VSL is the brainchild of Kurt Andersen and Michael Jackson.

Yes, that Kurt Andersen, co-founder of Spy magazine and host of the "Studio 360" from Public Radio International and WNYC in New York. And no, not that Michael Jackson. The Jackson behind VSL gained fame as a producer at the British Broadcasting Corp. with both BBC One and BBC Two, later moving to America as CEO of USA Entertainment, heading both the USA and Sci-Fi networks.

Andersen said VSL was born out of his own desire to find the gems hiding on the Web.

"It started out as kind of a lark," Andersen said. "In some realms I felt fairly plugged in, but I thought, 'wouldn't it be nice to have a service we trusted?' We started it because we wanted something like this to exist for our own use."

The idea has lead to a team of an editor and two writers and another six or eight contributors of ideas. Andersen said they meet every couple of weeks to review about 25 candidates for inclusion on VSL.

Some are held for future use, depending on their newsworthiness, such as a recent site that featured photos of Taliban fighters in effeminate poses following Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's claim there are no homosexuals in his country.

"I put on my editor hat for a while. We look for a mix between serious and light. Books and film," Andersen said. "We found a film of Karl Rove as a Young Republican. 'Oh, that's cool, let's keep it on the shelf and wait for the time to use it.'"

The site saved a video link -- a 1972 Karl Rove interview with Dan Rather -- for use when Rove resigned from the Bush White House in August.

The site has been live since July 2006, when the infamous World Cup head-butt by French soccer captain Zinedine Zidane to Italian player Marcco Merazzi was "explained."

Among Andersen's favorites are sites featuring a Sony Bravia commercial; the Icelandic band Kurr; baby names; Billy Graham concerts; an interactive Bob Dylan promotion; and an old Soviet guide to America. You can reach all of them through the "archive" link.

Among the "discoveries" on VSL that subsequently became cultural hits are: OK Go video; "The Last King of Scotland"; Lily Allen; and Miss Teen South Carolina.

Sign up now. Have some fun.

Share your Internet story with me at agibes@reviewjournal.com.

 

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