December 26, 2008, 8:55 AM — Year-in-review lists are all the rage right now. Everyone's counting down the top this-or-that of 2008, and amidst the noise, there's some pretty interesting content out there. I dug through dozens of tech-related "top of 2008" lists to find the cream of the crop. Here are 10 stories that stood out from the rest -- and no, I didn't include this page as one of them.
1. 50 Wonderfully Geeky Moments of 2008 (Asylum)
From the government using "World of Warcraft" to track terrorists to a Hollywood hottie's reluctance to get up close and personal at Comic-Con, the folks at AOL's Asylum blog found 50 fun and funny geek-friendly moments from the year. There's plenty here to keep you busy and entertained. Oh, and the first slide shows Megan Fox wearing a rather tight and short Star Wars shirt. Enough said.
2. Most Viewed Photos of 2008 (National Geographic)
A picture's worth a thousand words, as the saying goes, and National Geographic knows how to capture a moment in an image. The magazine put together a compilation of its 10 most viewed online photo galleries of 2008. One photo tells the story of Hurricane Ike through the face of a single woman; another shows an alien-like squid creature observed at an oil drilling site (a Digg favorite). These are some images worth revisiting or seeing for the first time.
3. Top 12 Tech Embarrassment of 2008 (TechCult)
2008 had its share of tech-related slip-ups, and now's the time to look back and laugh (or cringe). Whether it's the year's "Most Embarrassing Service Lifespan" -- congrats, Lively by Google -- or an NFL player's all-baring blog in the "Most Embarrassing Online Exposure" category, you're bound to find a chuckle in this collection. Also, I hear the writer is one hell of a guy, and far too modest to ever do something like put his own story into a "top 10" list.
4. Best of 2008 Plus the People's Choice (CrunchGear)
From the lowlights to the highlights, CrunchGear's "Best of 2008" takes you through the year's best and brightest from the world of tech. The writers from TechCrunch's sister site weigh in with their professional opinions, then present the results of a public poll -- and the two views don't always match up. In the "Best Phone" award, for example, the staff picks the Android-based T-Mobile G1, while the people pick the iPhone 3G. Surf on over and get in on the debate.
5. 24 Most Underrated Web Sites of 2008 (Mashable)
So many year-ender lists tackle big name products and stories. Mashable takes a different approach by focusing on two dozen new Web sites that didn't get their deserved day in the spotlight. The list profiles some promising startups you might not have seen, such as a site that lets you hear words pronounced in practically any language by a native speaker. "24 Most Underrated" is an interesting read that stands out from the rest.
6. Most Popular Free Mac Downloads/Most Popular Free Windows Downloads of 2008 (LifeHacker)
Perhaps the most practical entry of this list, LifeHacker's duo of "Most Popular Free Downloads" presents the most popular free programs downloaded by Windows and Mac users over the past year (using the site's own traffic measurement as a guide). You'll find tools like a PDF to Word document converter, a simple audio/video file converter, and an open source challenger to the iTunes beast.
7. 101 Most Essential iPhone Apps of 2008 (MacLife)
Love it or hate it, there's no denying 2008 was the year of the iPhone -- and, of course, the endless piles of apps. The guys at MacLife went through the App Store's thousands of options and picked out 101 of the best options available. This exhaustive compilation is well worth a read for any iPhone fanatic.
8. 10 Most Disappointing Games of 2008 (Wired)
It's easy to look to the bottom of the barrel for a "worst of" list. In evaluating the year's most disappointing games, though, Wired started at the top. The staff searched for titles that just didn't deliver what they should have -- offerings such as Mario Kart Wii, which is described as "fail[ing] to innovate in any meaningful way over earlier entries in the series." Ouch...that stings. Star Wars: The Force Unleashed and Spore are among the other picks for most underwhelming.
9. Quotes of Note From 2008 (PC World)
Kids say the darndest things -- and so, apparently, do high-ranking tech executives. This collection of notable quotes from 2008 covers a lot of ground, ranging from Larry Ellison's cloud computing admission to Linux mastermind Linus Torvalds' "masturbating monkey" reference while discussing security vulnerabilities. Add in the talk of space elevators and male enhancement e-mails, and you'll see why this story made the cut.
10. The 2008 Colbert Gadget Guide (Comedy Central)
What better way to end our list than with a wisecracking review of 2008's gadgets and games? Stephen Colbert's "Gadget Guide" features some of the finest tech-related moments from Colbert's Comedy Central show, all presented in embedded video form. Watch Rush try to play its own "Tom Sawyer" on Rock Band, check out Colbert's take on the recently unveiled self-driving car, and see why the "shoe phone" may be Apple's next big seller. Take a bite out of that, Steve Jobs.
So there you have it -- 10 of the finest "top of 2008" lists in tech. Of course, narrowing down the Web's wealth of year-end reviews is no exact science. Think I missed a worthy winner? Leave your link and review in the comments section below.