WWD's 2009 in Review, Part 1


As the year draws to a close, I thought it might be interesting to go back and review some of the big news and my favorite WWD posts from 2009. It was a tough year for many of us. The parlous state of the economy made life stressful for freelancers, contractors and remote web workers alike. On the flip side, thanks to better technology and software, web working has never been easier or more accessible than it is now — looking back through the WWD archives shows just how many useful new apps, tools and techniques became available in just 12 months.


2009 started quietly as far as many web workers were concerned, but significant tech news included offline support being added to Gmail, many web workers’ email client of choice, while GrandCentral’s SSL certificate expired (which caused Judi to ask whether Google was going to shutter the service — a question that was answered later in the year when Google Voice was launched). Meanwhile, the state of the economy was grabbing the headlines, prompting Dawn to evaluate what impact the downturn might have on web workers.

January also marked some significant changes here at WWD, as longtime senior writer Mike Gunderloy left, and editor Judi Sohn stepped down.


While Google continued to release new Gmail features (including Tasks, a simple to-do lists manager) a major Gmail outage prompted me to question how much faith we put into our web apps. While back on the desktop, a critical security vulnerability discovered in Acrobat reinforced the importance of keeping your software up-to-date. Perhaps in a sign of things to come for 2009, one of the most popular WWD posts of the month covered ways to improve Twitter efficiency, while Facebook overtook Myspace as the No. 1 social network.

February also saw the start of our excellent Web Work 101 series of posts for novice web workers, which was later compiled into a free e-book.


In a sign that updating and keeping an eye on all of our social networks was getting tiresome, Eric took a look at Ping.fm, a service that allows you to easily update a host of social networking and social media profiles all at once, while Dawn explained the systems that she uses to monitor online conversations. Meanwhile, Imran wrote about the increasingly popular trend of coworking, and Aliza went to SXSW and asked people, “What’s your favorite web app?” Xobni, a favorite tool of ours, moved out of beta; GrandCentral was finally relaunched as Google Voice; and Scott wrote about the Small Business Web, a collaborative effort that would lead to greater integration between many of our favorite web apps. In the most popular post of the month, I explained how to adapt Google Tasks for use in a GTD system.


In big OS news in April, Microsoft made the release candidate of Windows 7 available for download, which included a built-in “XP mode” to ensure backwards compatibility. On the browser front, Firefox 3.5 neared release, which was important as it included the new Tracemonkey JavaScript engine, providing for much better web app performance. RIM launched the BlackBerry App World to try to compete with Apple’s App Store. In the “What’s In Your Bag?” series of posts, the WebWorkerDaily writers all opened up their bags, showing you the gear they lug about every day.


In gear news, the Verizon MiFi 3G router went on sale, while I pointed to a report that blamed poor Wi-Fi performance on baby monitors. I reviewed new “computational knowledge engine” Wolfram Alpha, while Sam tried out Google Chrome and found it to be a speed demon. Tasks was integrated into Google Calendar, while Evernote released a BlackBerry app and Box.net also received some web worker-friendly updates. Aliza shared her 10 Golden Rules of social media, while Dawn wrote about the tools that she uses to monitor real-time information on Twitter.


June was a big month for browsers. News included the release of the stable and fast Firefox 3.5, the launch of Mozilla Collections, Google Chrome Mac Developer Preview’s debut, and the launch of the beta of Opera 10. Gear-wise, the Palm Pre debuted, although Charles wasn’t that impressed. Google Voice neared launch; Celine told us how to eliminate compulsive Internet fiddling; Aliza went to the 140 Characters conference and explained why Twitter matters now; Darrell wrote about the new trend of singletasking; while Georgina explained how to set up a home office for two.

I’ll publish the second part of this review tomorrow.

Photo credit: stock.xchng user biewoef

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