Letting my geek flag fly high here. I got online for the first time in July 1999, after finally giving in to the notion that the internet was a good thing. The net was very much a different prospect back then, but one of the first things I latched onto was this fun little film site you may have heard of - Ain't It Cool News. Now, a decade later, I'm still visiting the site two or three times a day, and I still love the place. Okay, so they get scooped now and again by other sites, but in terms of the place being run by true film lovers, you'll find nowhere better.
It is the talkative and friendly nature of their columns and contributors that has kept me going back there year after year. Harry Knowles and the gang write in the same manner people write emails and IMs to each other, just with less typos. I love the fact that these people, Quint, Capone and so on, talk to us like the film addicts they know we are.
I even love the Talkbacks. Sure, those gargantuan spaces beneath each article are full of people threatening to each each other's firstborn children and shouting about who sucks the most. but that's an essential part of popular culture, and I love it to bits. The fact that people can be so passionate, not to mention petty, in those talkbacks shows you just what a powerful medium film still is.
Yes, it annoys the hell out of me when some idiot posts a whacking great link and stretches the talkback screen out, but I still have a blast reading the various flame wars along with the actual decent comments. I take part in those talkbacks now and again (I'm foreverguardian on the boards if you're curious), but only when there's something I really want to take part in. I'm not one of the talkbackers who go in just to correct people and be an ass. Trolling ain't a good thing, people.
Ain't It Cool News is the place that made me want to get into pop culture blogging, and they have been the biggest single influence on the way I write for the sites I'm part of. The key to that site's power is the fact that everyone who takes part in it, be they the creators of the place themselves or the overenthusiastic visitors like me, are all largely on the same wavelength. We feel passionate about these flicks and their effects on our lives, and having somewhere to go and wag our fingers and have arguments in public is very cool indeed.
I also love the fact that the site doesn't just feature big stories. Their comics, anime, DVD and soundtrack columns are all great fun, as are the random posts regarding random aspects of the lifestyle and the hobby. The interviews they run are always interesting reads, even if you loathe the person being interviewed.
If you want to know more about how the site came about, I'd definitely recommend the book Harry wrote about the early years of the site and its influence on the movie industry, along with keeping up the habit of going there a few times a day to see what's going on and who's flaming who. It's the nexus of finding out about all the things that make the movie world so good right now, along with a few of them that aren't so cool (remakes? GAAAAHHHH). Long may it reign, and long may it remain my most visited bookmark. AICN, I salute you.