Talk about anticlimactic! NewYorker.com finally contains “content.” Of a sort. The embarrassingly outdated, even amateur, graphic design (which breaks every standard in the book) recapitulates the risible failures of early Slate, errantly mapping print design on the Web. Have these people never looked at Esquire.com (NUblog passim), which evocatively translates the ethos, even the graphic ethos, of a hoary old rag into the medium of Jennifer Lopez fan pages?
(Incidentally, we nominate “Waiting for Tonight” as the unlikely successor to Captain Hollywood Project’s “More & More” as most unintentionally embarrassing music video in the dance genre. But we digress.)
Now, we were wary of the staid organ’s forays into le monde branché, but only because of David Remnick’s specious warning that “it’s hard to say if our longest pieces would work on the Web.” Pshaw. We’ve beaten that vegan dead-horse substitute enough already.
(Ominous additional remark: “No matter what we do, of course, the main preoccupation here will be the thing itself, the New Yorker that you get in the mail and on newsstands.” We suppose we were warned.)
Anyway, the new NewYorker.com is receiving reviews almost as savage as those of AOLTV. Ken Layne:
When historians look back on the Internet Bubble, they’ll mark February 2001 as the End of Web Publishing. That’s because the Web-wary New Yorker has timed the debut of its hideous online edition to coincide with the total collapse of not just the business, but the very idea, of online journalism as some specific thing....
So, let’s review the New Yorker site. It is awful. Awful, ugly, pointless, searchless, archiveless. And there’s not even a current cover illustration. It’s naked. NewYorker.com should have remained as it was: Click Here to Subscribe, perhaps finally debuting in 2004 when we’re all eating rats and living in dumpsters. [To say it is to make it happen, so knock it off. – NUblog]
But what did anyone expect? When’s the last time you saw a “cool Web site”? Just a few years ago, people actually said things like, “I saw a cool Web site.” When’s the last time you happily read something on the Internet? When’s the last time you checked E-mail and did anything but cringe and wish for death?
It’s over. Thank you, New Yorker, for making it official. You folks keep printing a magazine and sending it to my apartment, and I’ll keep ignoring your Web site, and we’ll forget this ever happened.
Meanwhile, never to be outdone in any calibration of cluelessness and missing the point, some halfwit in a tweed jacket and elbow patches over at Slate yammers on for screenful after gormless screenful, offering the following, which can only be taken at face value:
We are prepared to declare the online “Goings on About Town” an unqualified success. The listings are broken down into individual links: one for the Theatre, one for Movies, one for Art, and so on. This feature, combined with the fact that you can search for individual plays or movies or art exhibits by hitting “control f,” makes the online version of this section easier to navigate than the print version.
Within-page searching by using the browser Find command is fine and dandy for certain kinds of homogeneous documents, and for content-Weblog archives which, embarrassingly enough, still are not served up by database. Newsflash: “control f” isn’t the only possible command sequence, though in the land of eternal rain and monopolies they apparently believe otherwise. And, gee, shouldn’t we let people search or browse by title, cinema, theatre, or gallery? Even puny Eye lets you do that.
Sure, geeks can hack their way through anything. So can nerds. Nerds are happy to scan a printed page for five minutes trying to locate a gallery listing, so the ability to “hit ‘control f’ ” seems like an evolutionary advance.
Well, it isn’t, any more than two tin cans strung with a wire are a telephone.
Which is worse, a twee failure of a Web site or the twee failure of another twee failure of a Web site to recognize it?
Posted on 2001-02-27