When I first came to SL, it wasn't too difficult to keep up with developments. Back then there were only just over a hundred sims and a thousand avatars. There was only one mall, one club, a handful of shops, and it was possible to know nearly everyone in SL.
Gradually, as people joined and the land mass grew, it was possible to keep up by spending inordinate amounts of time exploring, by reading the SL forum and keeping your eyes open... looking at the clothes and shoes and furniture you liked and finding out where it came from.
Then the tide of new people and places began to make it impossible to know everyone and everything, but to keep abreast of the best. This seemed to be remarkably easy for a long time. Although the number of sims exploded, the number of well built, interesting or beautiful sims did not, and so the same sims turned up on the best of lists, over and over again.
Now... now there are so many people, making so many things, and building so many places, it has become impossible to be an all-knowing repository of what is good in SL. The SL search has improved, but not enough to make it a reliable source of information if you are looking for the best hair/skin/clothing. People have set up systems of all different types, allowing you to rate places and things, but I haven't come across one yet which actually allowed the best things to rise to the top. Usually, whatever system you use, it can be gamed by the unscrupulous or the desperate, to bring the same old same old floating up into the popuar list.
Frankly, the best quality top ten list was when the Lindens used to nominate places - and I'm not just saying that because one of my builds was once on it.
I don't know how the face of SL will change in the light of the new adult area. Whether it will, as hoped-for, restrict the adult content in one area, it's impossible to say. Probably if the traffic for the adult areas appears to be higher, it will attract support. But then people with private islands aren't (currently) being asked to move them to the new continent, and so there will still be adult content outside that area. As green dots attract green dots, and so the more people go to a place, the more people will go to it, it will probably become popular if it is popular... if you see what I mean.
The nice thing about the huge world SL has grown into is the variety of things on offer... the bad thing about it is the difficulty of finding the things and the peope you might like. Anyone who cracks that problem will have instant celebrity. Meanwhile I seem to have built up an enormous number of Myrl Karma, and have NO idea what to do with it....