One aspect of my thesis that I’ve been thinking a lot about, without actually writing anything down, is the McSweeney’s website (Is this possibly because of the difficulty of using it in a possessive noun phrase? How should that appear? McSweeney’s’s website? McSweeney’s’ website? Or just McSweeney’s website? I can, and do, write around this problem a lot of the time; there’s nothing wrong with being challenged to come up with a new expression. It’s slightly inconvenient, is all it is).
Their website is a curious thing for my research. I need to find a way to investigate it in its own right, but still relating it to the journal. Obviously. My work on the journal is about forms, is about content. One way of approaching the website is to replicate this approach, to try looking at with the same tools, the same types of questions.
What sort of tradition does the McSweeney’s website enter into? Has it spawned imitators? Does the design of the website follow the design of the journal? Is this transference of print > online a pattern that other periodicals have followed? In a semiotics of websites, what does it symbolise to maintain such a pared-down aesthetic?
What types of content did it originally publish? Is there even a way to investigate this? Will they have an archive? Is it archived in the Wayback Machine? Is the Wayback Machine so comprehensive? How do they choose what to archive? How has the popularity of the website changed what is published in the journal? Has the type of content published online changed?
Who reads the McSweeney’s website? Does everyone who reads the website read the journal? Does everyone who reads the journal read the website? What relationship is there between the website and the journal? What sort of cultural status does the website have compared to the journal? How can I assess this? Is the Technorati ranking of sites that repost McSweeney’s content an accurate judge of popularity, or a useful but limited perspective?
Hm, I like asking myself questions. Tomorrow/later I might try and answer some of them. I came onto the blog to try and do a quick analysis of the website, but that involves a lot more methodological consideration than I realised. But there is value in doing an impressionistic sketch, often where my best ideas come from. TBC!