Blogs - the latest web craze - are springing up everywhere these days.
Short for weblogs, blgs are online diaries penned by folks eager to share their thoughts, feelings or everyday lives with the rest of us.
There are personal "here's-what-happened-to-me today" blogs, blogs written by politicians, blogs about news and sports, photoblogs and even "moblogs" - photoblogs featuring snaps taken by those new camera-equipped mobile phones.
Some estimates say there are about 500,000 blogs in this new frontier called the blogosphere. Golly, even Barbra Streisand has one of them.
So we decided to wade through it and serve up the world's best. It's purely subjective, but what the hell?
We looked for sites that were crisp, clean and pleasing to look at, updated frequently and had original content as well as some kind of universal appeal (that is, not just about America and its politics). Some are sites that have been singled out for excellence before but most of them we found just by surfing the blogs until our eyes went wonky.
Here are our top 20, by category:
The slickest blog on the web, lovingly crafted by a 25-year-old New Yorker. Not a lot of words here - his stock is in pictures, slide-shows, video and music. It is an awesome online diary and provides lots of exploring for visitors.
Recent ramblings: The pics and graphics speak volumes. Check his July 12 entry.
Cool extras: Download his custom skins, wallpaper and screensaver. The dude even has T-shirts for sale.
Beautifully designed site from New Zealand - weird news and links from all over the planet.
Recent ramblings: "Take a bottom-up approach to the real estate market and go buy yourself a missile base. Hey, it beats the average battery-hen-style apartment hands down and the best thing of all ... no neighbours. Bliss."
Cool extras: Go to miscellanea for gags - try DIY Jerry Springer.
From an Aussie born in Borneo recently transplanted to Canada, sly observations on the world around us.
Recent ramblings: "In the forest, the trees lean out in greeting, the undergrowth stretches and tugs at the seams of your skirt. The afternoon sunlight takes shelter beneath the unweeping willow, a butterfly shows off its vibrant wings."
Cool extras: The Morning Paper - photos of the front pages.
Life in L.A.
A 25-year-old woman writing beautifully about her life in Los Angeles. By far, the smartest, most elegant and most poignant words committed to a weblog we've seen.
Recent ramblings, two days after her father died: "I left the house finally, drove in my Dad's big, stupid Oldsmobile to the grocery store and the bank. Wandering up and down the aisles, numb and quiet, staring for whole minutes at the massive amounts of stuff on the shelves ... I feel so still inside ..."
Cool extras: Even more of her writing in the archives. Links to other fine blogs.
A straight-up, well-rounded blog posting news on issues in the tech sector.
Recent ramblings: "Just a sad reminder that, thanks to ridiculous software licensing practices, if you buy used equipment on eBay, you might not be able to use it ..."
Cool extras: Up-to-date tech news headlines.
The king of tech blogs, it has been around for at least the past six years and is the most famous of the genre. Loads of diverse entries from its faithful devotees.
Recent ramblings: "The Seattle Times has an article today on Tim Sanders, a Yahoo! exec who claims too much technology may be bad for your health."
Cool extras: Subject links allow you to narrow down the kinds of posts you see because there's a lot of them.
A real user-driven blog. Posting of tech views and issues isn't just the domain of the bloggers themselves but the audience, too. Debates here on stuff beyond the realm of tech - politics, science and more - make it even more diverse.
Recent ramblings: "I am a dyed-in-the-wool tech weenie. Hardcore Cisco jockey. I got whacked from a classic tech company back in January ..."
Cool extras: Lots of commentary on the posts.
The blog for gadgets - because we all want them.
Recent ramblings: "... there's yet another study gauging the dangers of driving while talking on the [mobile] phone. This one says that leaning over to reach for something and adjusting the radio are far more likely to be the causes of driver distraction than talking on the phone. It's just that talking on a phone is a lot easier to outlaw."
Cool extras: A search function comes in handy when looking for particular gadgets.
A must read, daily. A blog on blogs, tech gadgets and more. Links to compelling reading and must-visit sites.
Recent ramblings: "Now online at Nerve.com: 'Cold' is part two of The Dreampod Sessions, an erotic series by eminently cool Brooklyn geek photographer Siege ... Most certainly not safe for work."
Cool extras: A free download of a new book penned one of the Boing Boing bloggers - this bloke is devoted to the free web. Excerpts from a "guest" blog.
Celebrity gossip from the streets of New York. If you like that kind of thing. A former British journalist and a Manhattan native team up to put out this diary. "Current obsessions include, but are not limited to, Tina Brown, urban dating rituals, Conde Nastiness, movie grosses, Hamptons gauche, real estate porn ..."
Recent ramblings: "Two nights ago at Da Silvano, former ER actress Juliana Margolies raising her glass and announcing to her table, 'There are no bad actresses, just bad scripts,' before asking her companions if any of them saw Scrubs, and then proclaiming that she does theatre for grocery money."
Cool extras: Not much - a few links. But if you are here, you're celebrity-obsessed and you don't care about much else anyway.
For folks who don't have the ego or the technical savvy to do their own blogs but still have great stories to tell, there's The Fray. This sharply designed site posts your riveting stories for you.
Recent ramblings: "On the nights I spend alone, I sleep with the telephone near my head, just in case."
Cool extras: Holds Fray Days - events with free live performances where you can also spill your guts.
Music, news about the music scene, more music. This is one hip site, packed to the gills with all sorts of stuff for music lovers including links to free downloads.
Recent ramblings: "Supermodel Kate Moss becomes a pole dancer in the video for the White Stripes' new single I Just Don't Know what to Do with Myself ... And guess what - now we've got the whole video ..."
Cool extras: "Undeniable forensic proof that the Beatles legend Paul McCartney really was replaced with a look-alike in 1966." (Entry August 6)
News and opinion
Winds of Change
A blog focusing on global affairs. These days, it is war-heavy but still gives collections to make you think.
Recent ramblings: "Other Topics Today Include: tightening the noose around Saddam's neck; Hans Blix singing the same ol' song; losing to Al-Jazeera ..."
Cool extras: A ton of reading here for the worldly blogee.
One of our absolute faves. A hip design with cool art and smart links to riveting reading. Dedicated to "questioning the follies of society".
Recent ramblings: "I haven't been following the recall donnybrook in California too closely and now it seems two big name candidates - Schwarzenegger and Huffington - are in ... How many other candidates have gotten stoned on camera?"
Cool extras: Albums of more awesome art and selections from featured writers.
Cagle's Web Log Hilarious collection of satirical newspaper and magazine cartoons, some by the host, a syndicated editorial cartoonist. A must-see.
Recent ramblings: "Yippee! Arnold is running for governor! Great news for cartoonists! We'll be putting a collection of Arnold cartoons up as soon as possible."
Cool extras: Loves to post cartoons that have been spiked by editors. Allows you to select cartoons by topic.
Where is Raed?
This anonymous young blogger, known only as Salam Pax, became famous during the Iraq war. The 29-year-old Iraqi engineer's dispatches before, during and after became a sensation, providing insight on the ground in Baghdad from the perspective of an ordinary Iraqi. His diary, named after his initial desperate quest to track down a missing friend (since found), is still riveting reading.
Recent ramblings: " 'I know what we have done is right and we had to do it but there must have been a better way to do it.' When a soldier starts his conversation like this you can't help but really, really like him ..."
Cool extras: A photo diary. Cracks Pax: "I am working my way up to Pax TV."
What's New Pussycat?
A witty 25-year-old Aussie redhead takes Scotland.
Recent ramblings: "I'd heard Ewan McGrrrrregor was in town for the premiere of his saucy new film. Just my luck, I'd bump into the lusty lad while wearing baggy pants and a hint of that morning's Weetabix on my T-shirt."
Cool extras: Mac Moron - diatribes on her adventures in Apple land.
For those who'd rather look at cool pics than read pesky words.
Recent ramblings: Um, none. But some pretty creative photos from a family crazed over its new digital camera.
Cool extras: 26 Things - collection of favourites.
An impressive collection of blog writing on sport.
Recent ramblings: "It's absolutely outrageous that players ask supporters to fund their footy trips. Here's a novel concept - spend your own money!"
Cool extras: Not just one sport ranting but a few. Tons of links.
A self-employed illustrator in Melbourne on domestic life and the adventures of a newborn.
Recent ramblings: "Amelia J likes birds. If she hears them while she's eating her dinner she stops and listens. If she sees a magpie on the road when we're out on a walk she waves her arms around and says, 'Ya ah!' "
Cool extras: Snazzy, crisp art.