It’s a sign of how easy it is to get lost in popular culture when I can make a headline like the one above that won’t make sense to anyone except perhaps the six or seven people who read both Seanbaby.com (warning: funny but extremely offensive material at that link!) and Slashdot (warning: deeply geeky and extremely offensive (to non-open-source people) material at that link!). But Jon Katz reached out and highlighted Seanbaby.com as an example of a unique voice on the Internet writing about pop culture, and posted his thoughts on Slashdot.
It’s interesting to read the commentary from the Slashdot audience (suggestion: filter the comments view to +3 or +4 to avoid really repetitive or otherwise uninsightful commentary). A couple of major threads stuck out: first, Seanbaby certainly isn’t the only “chunk of real America” that you can find on the web. I would agree with that, and I think both “Esta” and I would argue that this is good. The more voices on line, the harder it is to get sucked into homogenous groupthink, corporate or otherwise.
Second, a lot of the really interesting stuff on the Web isn’t on the super-robust, super-scalable servers that the corporate giants run–it’s on little matchstick servers like Seanbaby’s that are slow on a good day and highly susceptible to being knocked over by thousands of page views. This is the so-called “Slashdot effect”–in fact, “being Slashdotted” (or /.ed) has become a verb online. It looks like Seanbaby has weathered the Slashdot effect today, but the fact that the site got Slashdotted in the first place made me think:
If you graphed online web sites by number of visitors, you’d get a really broad, flat curve. There are only a few sites that get significant traffic. The top ten sites, in Jupiter MediaMetrix’s estimation, average about 36,000 unique visitors a month. Most of the rest, including mine, have maybe ten unique visitors a month. Nobody has the resources to keep up with the growing number of people on the Internet.
If someone with some money wants to make a significant difference in preserving freedom of speech and some of the more unique aspects of online culture, they could do worse than to drop a chunk of change on making hosting for sites like Seanbaby’s reliable and affordable.