Thinking about how McSweeney’s uses the space on their website. When you first open the page, you get:
- Title header (with varying ‘Timothy McSweeney is…’ text)
- Line illustration of a ‘quirky’ (need better language for this) object
- A link to the newest content on the site
- Links to the 826 McSweeney’s literacy foundations
- Two political links related to Eggers’ novel What is the What
- Two links to other McSweeney’s ventures and a link to a human rights foundation
- Link to McSweeney’s store
- Link to news feed source
- Topical item usually relating to items on sale in the McSweeney’s store
Interesting that just making a list makes it easier for me to think about the McSweeney’s website. How I represent McSweeney’s is crucial, it can put ideas into a different shape, but then that’s a perhaps unhelpful way of representing my thought processes. I like to talk about ‘pushing ideas around in my head’, but I think the metaphors I use should involve more friction, because it often feels like it’s when I’m working with the same subject, it’s when I move things around that suddenly new ways of thinking emerge. Or sometimes I feel like it’s more like a tumble drier, and things get shoved around erratically until they make sense, without me realising that this was necessarily what I wanted to arrive at. Hm, but the analogy with tumble drying doesn’t really make sense, then.
Anyway, there is a stability, a consistency about the McSweeney’s website. There’s the danger that this gets mistaken for staidness, for being unchanging, but they don’t need to do anything fancy with their aesthetic to attract readers. (Dave Eggers said he wanted a website that worked with his computer when it was set up just before the turn of the century, one he could just update in half an hour. This principle has remained the governing policy of the website.) The content does all the work for them, and I should explore digg/delicious/etc to see how this works in reality. People come to the site from being emailed or sent facebook links to a particularly funny article. It’s unlikely they get a lot of random traffic from Google, but I’m sure a lot of people hear ‘McSweeney’s’ and just Google it, so have to consider how accommodating the website is for these visitors? There is a concession to helping people navigate in red/black dots for new/kind-of-new content, but it’s not like there is a easy-to-navigate map of what content has been produced when.
What else? The commercial stuff is interesting, but not incredibly so. The emails McSweeney’s send out involve a lot of repetition of shilling their products, might get into the language of this at some point. How there is a good style behind it, a rhetoric that doesn’t suffer from the same artificiality of typical marketing language, but by not varying their style, it ends up making the same mistake? The website usually directs people to sale products and new offers, so there is a case for them being helpful and directing people to things they want to buy, don’t overdo the anticapitalist schtick, there are positives in capitalism.
For now, moving to my laptop to write about zines for my ‘proper’ work.