I read blogs for my job. I used to read them for fun. There was a certain satisfaction circa 2002 in answering the question, "where did you hear that?" with the name of a blog the other person had never heard of, which by now is a blog that person is sick of reading. Of course, now dogs have blogs. Dogs. Have blogs. This is deplorable. One good thing about the old Internet was that we didn't know they were dogs. And we thought they were fascinating. Good blogs have a few things in common. They are the often the product of an obsession, or a collection of obsessions. They are reported. And, yes -- well-curated links count as reporting. Good blogs are surprising. They are fresh. They break news. They are visually interesting. They make us laugh. They make us email our friends. They are sometimes deep. They update frequently. In other words, they are nothing like the lame personal blog you are reading.

The true test is whether you return. Here are 10 blogs that get my repeat business. That means their feeds are in my top folder in Google Reader, and I scroll through the headlines every day, even if I don't read every post. They are not, generally, mean-spirited or political or full of opinion.

  • BoingBoing I used to read BoingBoing when it was a print zine. By many measures, this group blog is consistently ranked at the top. Mark Fraunfelder, Corey Doctorow and Xeni Jardin, among other writers here, are some of the clearest thinkers about the Web and digital media. Obsessions include gadgets, steampunk, comics, copyright, robots, still and moving images, games, puzzles, madness, art. Chances are, if you come across something fresh and wild online, if it didn't originate on BoingBoing, it will be posted there within the next 10 minutes. If I could read just one blog, this is the one.
  • Cool Tools One new tool recommendation a day. I have bought utensils, eco-friendly shoes, toys and gadgets recommended here. The blog was started by Kevin Kelly, former editor of the Whole Earth Review, Wired and the subject of one of the most interesting interviews ever to be broadcast on "This American Life," in 1995. Go listen to it.
  • kottke.org Jason Kottke has been serving up fine hypertext products at his blog about the liberal arts since March 1998. He has his finger on the pulse of the Internet. Chances are, if you are about to blog it, Kottke has already blogged it. He has a nose for online innovation, curiosities, important trends and goofball concepts.
  • Metafliter A community site started by Matt Haughey when blogs were still called weblogs. It is still going strong. It's hard to define what makes a good FPP, and I haven't tried in ages, but skip the newsfilter; the real action is in the comments, which are witty, intelligent and only sometimes brutal. And if you have a question about anything -- anything -- Ask Metafilter, and get multiple answers, in a feature badly copied by Yahoo, Google and others.
  • Fimoculous Rex Sorgatz reads the Web so I don't have to, then he links to the best stuff. Short, to the point, prolific, on hot topics. He makes it look easy, but -- it isn't.
  • Streetsblog If you don't ride a bike or walk on sidewalks in New York City, you may not want to read this blog, but I do and I do, so I do.
  • The Unofficial Apple Weblog There must be 10,000 Apple and Mac news/rumor blogs, and I've read them all, but in the end you only need one, and this is the one I picked, because it taught me how to jailbreak my iPhone.
  • Ephemeral New York "Chronicling an ever-changing city through fading and forgotten artifacts." I don't know how she finds this stuff, but it's all cool.
  • Dvorak Uncensored Weird crime. Bizarre health claims. Why read it in tomorrow's Post or Daily News when you can read it at John C. Dvorak's WTF-news site first?

O.K., that's only 9. There are several tied for 10th place. I'll save them for another post.