Single Serving Sites

12 December 2008
1:48 AM

One of the classes I took this semester at school was a little one-credit course taught by Quinten Hardy, “Information Technology and Identity: The Future of Storytelling.” The basic premise of the class is that a new medium never realizes its own genius initially. When the printing press was developed the first books were giant, immobile tomes because that’s how people saw books. It wasn’t until years later that someone considered printing them in smaller sizes to make them portable, which sparked popular reading. The first television programs were announcers sitting at desks reading the news, like radio but with video. One of our principal questions was what is or will be the Internet’s genius?

I was considering some ideas for the required final paper and I thought it might be interesting to look into single serving sites, a phenomenon that I read about on Kottke earlier this year. We discussed our potential topics in class, and my idea had a lukewarm reception, so I opted for a safety topic I had about how the format of sites like Reddit and Digg affect their treatment of news. A couple weeks later a classmate confronted me in the hall and convinced me that the paper on single serving sites was worth writing.

I finished my paper a couple days ago, created a domain for it,, and shot an email to my professor with the URL. I told some friends about the paper via Twitter, and a dozen or so visited to take a look. I also sent a short note to Jason Kottke, since I got the idea by reading his site.

Long story short, I came home this evening to find my site mentioned on Kottke’s site. I checked Google Analytics to find that over 2,000 people had visited the paper. To add perspective, that’s about 25% of all the visits to this site this year.

My thanks to everyone who has emailed me with comments and suggestions. I wasn’t able to devote as much time to this project as I would have liked (it’s only one credit of many), but I hope to revisit my analysis over Christmas break. Which is coming soon: check

Update (Dec. 18): My site was mentioned on BuzzFeed, MetaFilter, and Hacker News. Also, Michael Sippey wrote an imagined one-paragraph conversation that I might have with my parents explaining my project. It’s funny, but I think it overestimates my parents’ interest by about a paragraph.

Update (Dec. 26): my 15 minutes are up. This is what a meme looks like:

Traffic graph for