Editor's note: This is the first of a three part series on websites that help organize your pop culture pursuits.
With the amount of pop culture our generation exposes itself to daily, intentionally and unintentionally, it can be overwhelming to keep it all straight. With new Internet-based distribution models like Netflix and Hulu for film, and services like Spotify for music, anyone with the desire to do so and has a bit of spare cash can bury themselves in fresh television, movies and tunes 24/7 without ever needing to leave the computer.
This ease of acquisition and consumption lends itself to a specific breed of website that is designed for the purpose of tracking, cataloging and sharing your culture consumption. Here are some of the better social cataloging sites out there where you can mark films seen and books read, rate albums, make lists, create tags, get recommendations, compare your taste with others and more.
Film and television
Twenty-two years after its founding, the Internet Movie Database is still one of the biggest players. Users can rate movies and television shows, search and sort them, and discuss them in message boards, in addition to being presented information on actors, trivia, show times and so on. The site lives up to its impressive name, and its user-generated Top 250 list is one of the most famous and controversial movie lists on the Internet. IMDB’S old-fashioned and ugly layout does work against it, and the discussion boards can at times be some of the most inane places on the web, but it’s well worth signing up for.
More recently arrived on the scene is iCheckMovies, which takes a far more modern and “Web 2.0” approach. It seizes on the recent trend of moving away from numerical ratings to binary “likes” and “dislikes” in order to make tracking your film viewing a more streamlined and minimal experience. Each film has basic information on its page, plus a link to its respective IMDB page for the latter’s more in-depth information. The biggest draw for iCM is that they tag each film with “lists” that it is featured in. These lists range from Roger Ebert’s personal favorites, to the greatest films as chosen by the American Film Institute, to the IMDB’s aformentioned Top 250. With so many informed opinions at your disposal, it makes giving yourself a crash course in film more fun and easier than it’s ever been. Users can also enjoy more advanced features such as making their own lists and marking movies as favorites or disliked, but to get the complete set of features you’ll have to pay to be a premium member.
The A.V. Club’s website is essential reading for a pop culture fan, but the TV Club section in particular shines for its depth. The reviews are top notch, and you can track, rate and check television episodes after you’ve viewed them. The selection of shows slants heavily toward currently airing ones, and the database is not intended to track and provide information on all shows, but for modern television, the TV Club is a valuable resource.