RIP Websites

EXCitInG oPpOrtuniTy IN tHe DaILy musiC spACe

Tabs was off yesterday because I started reading the Dan Kois, Nitish Pahwa, and Luke Winkie Oral History of Pitchfork in Slate and I guess time got away from me and now suddenly it’s Thursday? Like all oral histories it’s about eight times longer than it should be, and like all stories about Pitchfork it mostly reminded me how annoying Pitchfork could be. Overall: 7.8. If you want roughly the same beats in a more “reported feature story” format, Liz has you covered in The Verge.

But the story of Pitchfork is also one of the last stories we have left out here in the starving days of the quadruple deuce that captures the full arc from starting a website in a laundry room because you love indie music all the way through to getting carelessly shut down by dead-eyed media psychopomps Anna Wintour and Roger Lynch. Here’s how it started:

[Chris] Kaskie [(president and co-owner, 2004–17)]: We are not trying to be everything to everybody. We’re trying to be something to someone.

And here’s how it’s going:

Will Welch (global editorial director, GQ and Pitchfork): This is the beginning of a new era at Pitchfork. We are thinking big about what role music criticism and journalism should play in the era of recommendation algorithms. How can Pitchfork continue to serve music fans in ways that the machines cannot? With such a large, loyal readership, and so few other media outlets operating in the daily music space, the opportunity is huge and exciting.

In 2003, that same Will Welch wrote a pre-”College Dropout” (and long pre-MAGA) Kanye West’s first cover story, for Fader. Twenty years later he’s got the black oil swirling in his pupils as he vomits corpo-sludge about “thE dailY muSIc sPAce.” God show me the way because the Devil's tryna break me down.

But the oral history also embeds a now deleted tweet reporting that Pitchfork had “the highest daily site visitors of any of our titles” and in February it was nominated for an ASME award for the second year in a row. The problem isn’t a lack of readers.

Ryan Broderick recently wrote something like “the internet is just three and a half websites now,” but the internet is so broken that neither of us could find the post where he wrote it. Google is so bad that I couldn’t manage to Google up an article about how bad Google is. Social media is useless across the board, and Reddit IPOed today so it’s thirty seconds to midnight for our last source of human posting, the content of which is already being ground up into fanciful information-like blurbs on those Google result pages that don’t point anywhere. Caitlin Dewey has a Links I Would GChat You Original today reporting that science says internet discourse has always been as toxic as it is now, which I believe, assuming anyone can figure out where the toxic discourse is even happening.

But we can still make websites. It’s arguably easier now than it’s ever been. It’s also easier to collect money online than it’s ever been. There’s a huge cohort of professional journalists suddenly looking for work, and a huge audience of people working email jobs at home, without even a boss looking over their shoulder, who don’t know where to point their attention when the 3:30pm doldrums hit. Lately I keep catching myself staring at the wall and thinking:

Newspaper cat meme: “I should make a website”

This is obviously a symptom of something, because people never stopped making websites. The Vice escapees of 404 Media, for example, where Jason Koebler, building on work by Ernie Smith and Michael Greshko, finally ran down who the new owners of Deadspin are. If you thought it was gonna be some kind of A.I. sports gambling spam thing, surprise! That’s exactly what it is. I lied about it being a surprise, sorry. But it is a surprise that Glassdoor is adding real names to user profiles. Sometimes they also add inaccurate information too? In Ars Technica Ashley Belanger writes:

Ever since Glassdoor's integration with Fishbowl, Glassdoor's terms say that Glassdoor "may update your Profile with information we obtain from third parties. We may also use personal data you provide to us via your resume(s) or our other services." This effort to gather information on Fishbowl users includes Glassdoor staff consulting publicly available sources to verify information that is then used to update Glassdoor users' accounts.

Cool, nice, probably delete your account there right away. Another website is The HTML Review, where Issue 03 is out. I don’t know if it’s any good, I’m still spinning the index page. There’s also Flaming Hydra, where Anna Merlan wrote about the time someone tried to recruit her into the NXVIM cult.

David Buchanan posted a chart titled “Kate’s Easter Event.” Look if you don’t immediately recognize it, please understand that’s for the best and do not inquire any further.

Who is the bad oink friend? Important news about cicada piss. They should let Tony Cavallaro have his “12-foot, 750-pound alligator” Albert back, after the years of effort he’s put into into eventually getting eaten by it. This is quite the obit for Andrew Crispo. Baby Gronk decided to rizz up the Drip King’s ex girlfriend. I barely even catch a buzz off a sentence like that anymore. Here’s a sentence that hits though:

Gif of Dennis Hopper huffing gas from a mask in “Blue Velvet”

If you’re making a website: B.D.F.Q. by 79.5

Thanks Music Intern Sam, for a little bit of motivation. Obviously my 2024 is pretty well planned out already but if you’re also thinking about making a website, hmu. I have ideas!

Paid subscribers: Let’s have an open thread tomorrow and talk about websites.