June 27th, 2008
At some point, we just started throwing shit in.
So many sites these days are filled with what can only be called “debris”. Useless remnants of other sites: things of no real use, yet there anyway. The right-hand columns and after-article white-space has turned into a free-for-all of features that may as well be advertising banners. Blogrolls and ISBN numbers; Scrobbler feeds and Twitters; Share This or Rate This.
It’s like we saw a feature in one place, where it was appropriate and useful, and decided it’d be so handy to have every where. “Man, rating things on Amazon is so great, I should let people rate my posts!”
You have six visitors, and at least one of them is your mom. She’s gonna love everything you do and fuck up the average.
It stopped mattering whether the feature was even useful to the visitor. We ask our visitors to “Digg This” not because it adds any value to their experience, but because we need the traffic. We showed off our favorite books not because the visitor may enjoy them, but because we hoped at some point they’d click on one and buy it, generating a small but welcomed tip in our electronic tip jar. We stopped adding value and started trying to subtract, or at least get in on the action.
On social-networks, it’s an epidemic. Facebook applications have begun to clutter up profile pages to the point that not only can’t I tell what’s new or interesting in my distant-friend’s lives, I have a hard time figuring out whether they’re still human or have been taken over by an alien-force who feeds solely by learning which Buffy character they are.
The only promise I’ll make to you is simple: I will never add debris to this site. I will never ask you to link something, or beg you for traffic. I will never sell you a product I don’t love, or review one I didn’t buy all on my own. I’ll never treat you as a pawn in my play for internet fame and wealth.1
You don’t need to know which web browser I support, or what blog-network I’m apart of. You don’t need me to point you to a social-bookmarking site, because chances are, you know them already. And if not, Google is always right there. You don’t need know what song I just listened to, because hopefully you have your own soundtrack. And I don’t think knowing what book I last read is of any real use to you unless I write a lengthy review and tell you what I thought of it.
I’m gonna write things, and link to things, mostly because I find them useful, or amusing; Because I think something should be seen or something should be said. And I’ll hope you agree with me and enjoy it. And maybe, someday, if I’m really lucky, I’ll find an advertiser willing to help me pay for the thing. But if not, fuck it. I make a living thanks in large part to an army of writers and sites who came before me, and I’m happy to contribute back without monetary reimbursement.
But I’m off debris. I’m off using it, and I’m off sites that push it. I’m pushing a new mentality here:
Debris: Isn’t your site better that that?
I’d make a badge, but the irony might kill me.
I make no promise about self-whoring. I’m just not asking you to do it. ↩