strange popularities

just an observation.

i have gone on rants about myspace on both the internet, and in person, with people that will listen to my jabbering, but i have noticed a trend over the past few years concerning people and what they deem popular, useful, or “the new thing.” this trend tends to lean towards items and sites that are either ugly or not well designed. this doesn’t mean the content of such sites are not worthwhile, but my question is, how did the attraction start, and why is it that the average person will concern themselves about such things in their everyday life, but not when it comes to the hours spent on these social networking, blogging, etc sites?

allow me to start with the obvious, myspace. myspace was originally designed as a location for bands (primarily indie bands) to set up a site to show off their music and who they are. it later became the place to go on the net for social networking. what gets me about this is that myspace in its default form is ugly, and making changes to it to make it “your own style” is also ugly. sure, most people go to a “hack myspace” site, do some form of design, and ultimately copy and paste code that they don’t know what is into the about me section of their profiles. having to “hack” myspace in this fashion is proof that myspace was not meant to be customizable from the start, but regardless, people have now learned how to do it (that is, they have learned how to copy and paste). my confusion lies with, how did this start? how did myspace, with its ugly interface and ugly customization techniques become what it is? it truly baffles me, but apparently the average human doesn’t care.

another plain, and ugly site that tends to be the hip place to stop and look is craigslist. how did this happen? the name craigslist pops up frequently on tv and among various groups, but how many people have actually looked at craigslist? it’s plain and ugly. that is not to say that plain is ugly, but in this instance, it is. craigslist is the place to go for personals and classified ads of all kinds. every major city is set up with their own craigslist off of craigslist.org, and it is looked at daily by millions. actually, it serves out over 5 billion page views a month. i can certainly understand how attractive a free classified and personals site could be, but this is another example about how the look and feel of a site doesn’t matter.

the last item on my list is boing boing. this blog is a great blog for various bits of information, but the design of the site, like craigslist, is plain. this one, however, is not ugly because it is plain, it is ugly because it is plain and has the flashing ads, etc that appear at the top and sides of the blog entries. without these, this plain site would simply be a blog with a nice minimalistic design, ala daring fireball. despite the overall look of the site, this is the blog that inspired many bloggers to try and blog full time. in my opinion, boing boing is the one that made blogging what it is.

these are just a few observations i have made among many others that exist in the popularity realms of the internet, but there is a comparison to everyones’ everyday life that i would like to show.

the same people who don’t care about the ugliness of the sites that they use daily, for hours at a time, are the same people that care about appearances in every other aspect of their lives. the average person would be hesitant to enter a car or house that had the same appearance that some of these sites have. the average person would certainly put the appearance of an individual high on their list when considering dating them, and possibly being associated with them. the average person would make sure they look appropriate and nice before leaving the house. however, despite all these everyday ways of living, the average person tends to attract themselves to the ugly, the plain, and the far less than perfect areas of the net.

i am truly baffled.

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