Why is that?
The answer is simple: there's just too much information in the world today. There's so much information that even the best tool for keeping on top of it all and sorting through it (Google) isn't up to the task of actually finding you the best information. Don't get me wrong--Google (and other search engines) does a fine job at finding you information.
It's just that there's a difference between information and the best information.
I don't know about you, but when I search Google these days, a lot of the same sites keep cropping up into the top levels of my results page. Wikipedia. About.com. eHow. Things like that--unless I'm searching for a specific website, like the home page of a company. The problem with search engines is that they so often give you what's popular--they give information that's "good enough." But things can be so much better when you get really valuable information.
There's a famous quote by Donald Rumsfeld (which he got made fun of for making), but it applies in this situation:
[T]here are known knowns; there are things we know we know.When you know what you don't know, then it's fairly easy to go out and find it. When you don't know what you don't know, no amount of googling will help. If you don't know a website exists, you can't very well search for it--you have to rely on finding it through other means. Means like Time's top 50 list.
We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know.
But there are also unknown unknowns – the ones we don't know we don't know.
But with so many different great websites coming out each year, the top 50 list approach turns into a revolving door--you see a great site one moment, then forget about it when the next great site is presented to you.
Ideally, that's where information professionals step in. People whose job it is to know what's out there and how to get to it. People who can identify a problem and know where to find the solution, all in one fell swoop.
This post has sort of rambled on by this point, so I'll wrap it up by encouraging you to get out there and explore the internet--check out the top 50 list. And support your local librarian. :-)