Ghost Sites of the Web

Web 1.0 history, forgotten web celebrities, old web sites, commentary, and news by Steve Baldwin. Published erratically since 1996.

July 09, 2007

Jane Magazine Closing, Leaving Web Clutter Behind

RadarOnline reports that Jane Magazine, a 10-year old womans' magazine, is closing.

No big surprise here. Magazines are dropping left and right, killed off by the unstoppable juggernaut of the Web. Magazine execs deny this at every turn, but it's the most obvious trend in the world. I mean, the iPhone literally lets people surf the Web in the bathroom, the last bastion of the magazine. Yes, people read them on the subway and in doctors' offices but most people don't ride the subway and most don't spend much time in doctors' offices.

Jane's website (at never got much traction on the Web. With all the money that Conde Nast stuffed into it, its current traffic rank is 159,485, which makes it LESS popular than, which has a budget of exactly zero.

When I went to Jane's Blog to check out how its readers were taking the news, I got a script error that froze my browser (see screenshot above).

Truly pathetic work; I doubt many will miss this monster, which will close sometime in August, when the last print issue ships.

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The Problem With Futurists (Faith Popcorn's Amazing, Search-Invisible Website)

Faith Popcorn's Amazing, Search-Invisible WebsiteThere are many problems with futurists, but none so great as the fact that they simply refuse to live in the present. Case in point: Faith Popcorn's BrainReserve, the Web site of futurist Faith Popcorn, located at the domain This site is the most egregious example of Flash overkill that I've ever seen: all of its content and its navigational structure is embedded within Flash, making it completely invisible to search engines. Much of the text of this site doesn't even exist as text, but as images, which are impossible for search engines to parse.

Popcorn, writing in the site's "What We Do Section (I'd link to this section directly, but linking to any page within this site is impossible, which means that its PageRank will forever be zilch), claims that her firm "collaberates with clients on the process of weaving the future into the everyday texture of their companies and brands."

Well that's all well and good. But the way she's woven the future into her Web site denies the reality that Google and other search engines are the way that most people find content today. The fact that a woman who is taken so seriously for her ability to predict future trends is apparently unable to direct the construction of an accessible Web site says much more about her clients (which tend to be cash-rich old media companies with nary a clue) than it does about Popcorn herself.

My advice to Faith is this: don't preach to us anymore until you've gotten your own house in order in the here and now, not in future never-never land

Labels: , , Yesterday's YouTube?

On the World Wide Web, timing is everything. You can have the greatest idea under the sun, but unless the infrastructure supports it, or the ephemeral, irrational memes of the electrosphere conspire to proclaim it "cool," or some other exogenous factor (perhaps Microsoft) decides to kill it, it will fail, and wind up in the Museum of Interactive Failure.

You can hire all the futurist consultants in the world and still fail, because these consultants and brand gurus really aren't futurists at all, but guys who are simply great salesmen. You can plan, plan, plan, and execute, execute, execute, and still fail because your project is either too far ahead or too far behind the zeitgeist of the time.

Case in point:, a site which accurately tailored its content to the lowest demoninator, identified its demographic with drop-dead accuracy (young males of below average intelligence, of which there are many), got great press, was well-financed, and failed in 2001. YouTube took many of these same elements and made itself a success years later by wisely refusing to inject its own editorial sensibilities into the dopey content stream. (Note: not all content on is crap, but most of it is).

Reality is non-linear and fate is cruel. If some butterfly hadn't flapped its wings in Indonesia, we'd all be living in a world where ruled the Web's content, was acquired by Google, and Tim Nye would be closing a purchase on a $250 million house in Palo Alto. But history isn't like that, and is just another failed effort in a long line of failed efforts that reach back to and beyond.

VC money isn't enough. Brains isn't enough. The best business plan in the world isn't enough. Unless you've got timing, you can do everything right and still wind up as another broken, angry guy in Palookaville, which is another way of saying that you should never rule out the role of dumb luck in creating today's interactive millionaires.

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