We look back on the extraordinary year that was 2020 through the prism of those most recommended podcasts, apps and sites that helped get us through.
It feels, then, like a good moment for reflection and to look back on the year that none of us will ever forget. There were, of course, some things that remained reassuringly the same, and for us, one of those was continuing to have our wonderful guest editors share their online recommendations – albeit this time including their tips for digital resources that have helped them to navigate two national lockdowns and continued restrictions.
Certain choices came up again and again. These are the trends that emerged over the past fifty-two unforgettable weeks.
The enduring popularity of Etsy suggests that our collective championing of independent craftspeople is happily going nowhere.
We all spent rather more time inside our houses this year. It stands to reason that so many of us longed for inspiration as to how to make our little corner of the world a lovelier place to be.
In a year when we all became more interested in cultivating the good life and eating for health, this guide to what to eat and when was exceptionally popular.
This one is popular year in, year out. An overwhelming number of our interviewees have listened to and learned from tales of things that haven’t quite gone according to plan, from the likes of Jamie Dornan and Nadiya Hussain.
Almost the flipside of How To Fail, How I Built This looks in forensic detail at the machinations of creating a successful business. Fascinating stuff.
Internet HeroThis year, our guests’ all-time top Internet heroes have included Tim Berners Lee as the inventor of the world wide web – to which we all owe so much, this year particularly;
Marcus Rashford for his extraordinary work in ensuring that children in poverty still had access to free meals through lockdown, and in holding the government to account on ending child poverty; and, finally, trusty old Alexa.
Also up there were Michael Moritz, a philanthropist and self-made man who has been central to the development of online culture; as well as Jack Monroe, whose Cooking on a Bootstrap provides brilliant ideas for creating nourishing meals on a budget.
Instagram was, hands down, the most-picked app this year.
WhatsApp was another big favourite – and this year, it not only offered a free line of communications for family and friends, but also became a means of connecting neighbourhoods and fostering a spirit of community through lockdown and beyond.
As our homes doubled up as our places of work, Dropbox came spectacularly into its own.
Favourite Insta AccountThe Modern House. Who didn’t need some distraction in the form of property porn?
Most Popular Guest Edits
Who didn’t want to get lost in the recommendations of one of the nation’s favourite horticulturists – especially when they were for the likes of YouTuber Rosamund Young’s Secret Life of Cows
The brilliant Jo Jones, one half of the brilliant Beauty Banks, shared her enduring love of a) TikTok and b) Nadine Baggott.
Alastair Hendy is the proprietor of the most exquisite Edwardian hardware shop in Hasting; a veritable world to get lost in. We – and you – adored his guest edit, as he told of reading his late great friend Deborah Orr’s book, Motherwell, as well as of why having manners online is just as important as IRL.
The woman behind the ever-joyful Hill House Vintage grid shared her love for Pentreath & Hall, as well as The Great Indoors podcast.
The philosopher and founder of The School of Life gave us his take on the internet – ‘definitely a force for terrible ill, but it's too late’ – and told us why YouTuber Nonstop Dan is an Oscar Wilde for the modern age.
The world-renowned legendary make-up artist told us of her love for How I Built This and how social media allowed her to meet Edward Enninful.
The mum of five and founder of Babyccino Kids told us how The Crown got her through lockdown and how she couldn’t be without Etsy or Instagram.
Most Read Stories
Charities took a big hit this year. The popularity of this piece proved people’s continuing collective willingness to give.
The earthy beauty of Toast – and those shops that are not dissimilar – proved a hit.
It is, perhaps, as sign of the times that a round-up of quizzes were such a hit this year, as we all searched for fun ways to occupy and distract ourselves.
This was a year that we all got a taste of home schooling. And these were a few of the resources that got us through.
If ever there was a year we’ve taken to our beds more than usual, this was it. And these sites helped us do it in style.
Who doesn’t love a whodunnit, especially when the cases are real-life? These were the ones we found most edge-of-seat compelling.
GWG’s Biggest 2020 Hero
There is some stiff competition here in a year of extraordinary courage from so many. But our hero has to be Jago Jones, the dinosaur-obsessed five-year-old battling fatal brain tumour DIPG, and undergoing clinical trials, for which every donation counts. You can follow and support this brave boy here.
By Nancy Alsop
The Best Online Courses
Insta Hero: Jago's DIPG Journey