November 20, 2008

"I still think that the Drudge Report is an aesthetic masterpiece even though I also consider it ugly."

Jason Fried uses the Drudge Report as a case study in how good design can also be ugly:
The Drudge Report... has proven timeless. It’s generic list of links, black and white monospaced font, and ALL CAPS headlines have survived every trend, every fad, every movement, every era, every design do or don’t. It doesn’t look old and it doesn’t look new — it looks Drudge. It hasn’t changed since at least 1997, and I believe the design goes back even further. How many sites can survive — and thrive — unchanged for a decade? That’s special.

There are no tricks, no sections, no deep linking, no special technology required. It’s all right there on one page. “But it’s a mess!” you could say. I’d say “it’s straightforward mess.” I wouldn’t underestimate the merit in that.

When you’re on the Drudge Report you’re on the Drudge Report. There’s no question where you are. The design has become iconic....

The site feels like a chaotic newsroom with the cutting room floor exposed....

One guy can run it. The site is run by Matt Drudge full time with help from an occasional part-time contributor....
I agree. There's something about Drudge that makes us want to look at it all the time. The sense that this is what the news looks like right now feels so right, even if you know it's wrong. Even that wrongness is part of the addictive power. Everything works exactly as it should.

And for all the starkness of the site, it still comes through that Matt Drudge is a specific person, with tastes and quirks. And that specificity plays out with a peculiar mix of stories, so that the big stuff is there, buffered by weird things, and the pictures and headlines are grouped to amuse us in all sorts of ways. Go there and look for some sly juxtaposition. You'll always find something.

I'll do it right now. Okay:



We've got that big phallic symbol of a missile pointing to the left, and our eyes go over and down to that vagina symbol with John Kerry poking out of it. In this symbolism, Kerry is either a newborn or a prick, but in any case, he's going to chair the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, we're told, and that's nicely thematically connected to the top story of Iran getting the atomic bomb. We see Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in his serious turban and John Kerry in his silly paper hat. This means something. This is important. Or maybe it means nothing. It doesn't matter. It's part of what bonds us to the Drudge Report.

40 comments:

Oligonicella said...

"Kerry is either a newborn or a prick"

Or he's a pussy and who wants a pussy as the chair the Senate Foreign Relations Committee? Just another interp.

tim maguire said...

I didn't think much about the juxtaposition, but when I saw the old campaign pic, I got that Drudge thinks Kerry is not a serious person and should not be given such a serious post. You add a whole other dimension, although I'd have to say in the porno meme, Kerry would be the sperm (think Woody Allen's "Everyting You Wanted to Know About Sex..."). Typically, he's lost and going the wrong way.

My only complaint about Drudge is that the headlines are often misleading.

john said...

"Kerry is either a newborn or a prick"

Or he's a pussy...


Kerry would not be invited to the Alt-house in winter.

Zachary Paul Sire said...

TEXTalthouse.blogspot.com:

"The logical and analytical type. They are especialy attuned to difficult creative and intellectual challenges and always look for something more complex to dig into. They are great at finding subtle connections between things and imagine far-reaching implications."

You'll die when you read the 2nd paragraph.

Zachary Paul Sire said...

woops: screwed up link.

just go here

http://www.typealyzer.com/

1jpb said...

The logical and analytical type. They are especialy attuned to difficult creative and intellectual challenges and always look for something more complex to dig into. They are great at finding subtle connections between things and imagine far-reaching implications.

They enjoy working with complex things using a lot of concepts and imaginative models of reality. Since they are not very good at seeing and understanding the needs of other people, they might come across as arrogant, impatient and insensitive to people that need some time to understand what they are talking about.

vet66 said...

Kerry is "assuming the position" he would take as Chair of the Foreign Relations Committee. One can almost here the banjo music from Deliverance as Kerry negotiates from his position of power.

I wonder if this is how he asks Theresa Heinz to pass the catsup?

michael farris said...

"Kerry is either a newborn or a prick"

I can't be the only one thinking of this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K-RKFewOetc


He's a spermatazoa!

wyatt gwyon said...

looks like http://www.typealyzer.com/ was built by someone who supported Palin -- one of those who thinks anyone who likes to write and think must be an out-of-touch elitist best ignored.

m00se said...

"NIG"

ricpic said...

There's something very in your face about the Drudge Report. I like that.

Look, for example, at the way Drudge prefaces the California Supremes taking up the gay marriage ban: It's On: a feisty shorthand way of saying, we always knew the vote wasn't the end of it and here comes the challenge.

integrity said...

I'm very happy Drudge had no power in the 2008 election cycle. Everything else I have to say about him and his site is negative.

Plus I loathe right-wing ugly homos like Matt Drudge. He defines the phrase self-loathing homosexual very nicely. That's positive.

I wonder who has less power now? Limbaugh, Hannity and all the right-wingers on radio that tried to push Romney on their audience during the primaries (and failed miserably, revealing how their audience could not really give a crap about what they think). Or Matt Drudge? Hmmmmm...

Zeb Quinn said...

Funny thing about it is Drudge came along in 1997 or so, when web design was an at an infantile level of development by today's standards, and it was a fairly state of the art design by the standards of the day. The basic design works well, so why change it? Seems to me though he includes much more graphical content than he did back then, when most people accessed the internet via a dial-up modem.

madawaskan said...

Wow I thought that was an old snap of Drudge Althouse had....

He does have that old photo of Kerry suited up for dooty there today.

Drudge also has Hillary with a Headband!

Everything old is new again!

Joe said...

The aesthetics are so horrible, I can't read the Drudge Report. Plus, I simply don't find it that good and fail to see why everyone is so gaga over it. So he broke a story or two. Big deal. His writing sucks and his design sense is even worse.

Howard said...

The Drudge Report works because of it's design simplicity. Look at other newspaper sites. You have to be a smart mouse to sniff out the cheese. Drudge places all of the varieties of cheese on the front page for everyone to easily gobble up.

As Ann points out, he uses a nice mixture of visual design with pop culture headlines. Why no one else copies him, especially MSM newspapers, boggles the mind.

Integrity: get a clue, we are all self-loathing repressed homos... get over yourself and try to be happy.

halojones-fan said...

I have to say that Drudge Report looks like it's basically ripping off the New York Post. Stark design, big headlines rendered as pithy quotes.

*****

"an aesthetic masterpiece even though it's ugly"...sounds like Louis I. Kahn saying that "Design is not making beauty; beauty emerges from selection, affinities, integration, love."

SteveR said...

I like his use of images and especially his tendency, where possible, to use flattering pictures of females.

I don't like that sometimes his links are to a site that gets bogged down with the traffic he creates for it.

SteveR said...

And let me clarify, HRC is an exception to the flattering picture tendency as is Pelosi.

AJ Lynch said...

Dtl:

Are libs like you as outraged by Drudge as they are by the mere existence of Fox News?

sonicfrog said...

My only complaint about Drudge is that the headlines are often misleading.

Oh, come on. That's part of the fun. You go to Drudge, read the headline, the try to guess what the story is really about.

Speaking of simple web site design, does anyone else get the "Althouse Slows" when video is posted here??? The site often crashes, and when it doesn't, the video never plays smoothly.

PS. Ann, I love you.....

PPS. Isn't there ANY way to blockquote in blogspot comments??? I've searched and searched but I can't find the code...

jdeeripper said...

We see Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in his serious turban and John Kerry in his silly paper hat. This means something. This is important.

"IT'S ON: California Supreme Court to take up gay marriage ban..."

John Burgess said...

I certainly don't expect to find deep, thoughtful pieces (as on Althouse--or my blog, for that matter). It's a tabloid web page.

He throws up all sorts of scurrilous stuff. Sometimes it's interesting; sometimes it's not.

He's certainly not a conservative toady. He slams Republicans left and right when he chooses to do so, when they piss him off in some manner.

But I can see how someone like Integrity (giggle) could be mystified by the fact of Drudge. Drudge Report is not Firedog Lake. It doesn't toe the extreme liberal line on all matters. It is doctrinally unsound. The tumbrels must roll!

Original George said...

He missed a big story yesterday...the reason why the Dow fell 427 points....

Gene Simmons of KISS rang the opening bell at the NYSE.

That's ugly.

Lick it up, America.

Henry said...

Great article. Thanks.

Drudge doesn't interest me in the slightest, but Jason Fried's analysis is terrific.

1jpb said...

For the complete analysis add:

65% woman

and

Jr High readability

SteveR said...

woman and Jr High readability

So above average average

tim maguire said...

sonicfrog wrote: "Oh, come on. That's part of the fun. You go to Drudge, read the headline, the try to guess what the story is really about."

Yeah, but I'm a sucker at heart. With Drudge, there's a lot of, "really? NO WAY!!! That is cool...but where's...ohh...rats."

Sofa King said...

Kerry is just a little man in a boat.

jdeeripper said...

Being straight (I know) forward and ugly works. If you have that confidence.

Chicks love confidence and when it is mixed with ugly it can be special. Most rock stars are painfully ugly and some women find that appealing.

Girls on the other hand like pretty. Tigerbeat cute.

Matt's site is very confident. No frills, no flowers, no compliments.

His hero Walter Winchell had a very direct and ugly voice. No pretense to being appealing.

Synova said...

Wait...

John - "Allawi is our puppet" - Kerry is going to chair the Senate Foreign Relations Committee?

dualdiagnosis said...

Integrity said- Limbaugh, Hannity and all the right-wingers on radio that tried to push Romney on their audience during the primaries (and failed miserably, revealing how their audience could not really give a crap about what they think).

I thought the meme was that they were all brainwashed dittoheads.

Roger J. said...

dualdiagnosis beat me to it..We can thank "itegrity" for exploding the myth of the "dittohead" once and for all.

blake said...

Number me among the "huh?" as far as Drudge goes.

I hit it a couple times in the last election cycle but I really couldn't figure it out.

I think it's ugly; it's very clearly dated, and back to a time when the "blink" tag was considered high art.

We have here the nostalgia that allows the Boomers/pre-Boomers to wax nostalgic about Saturday AM serials at the Bijou for a nickel!

Kevin Walsh said...

>>>How many sites can survive — and thrive — unchanged for a decade? That’s special.<<

Well, there's my site

www.forgotten-ny.com

It's been neatened up over the years, but still pretty much the same as it was in 1999 when I started it.

Palladian said...

"It's been neatened up over the years, but still pretty much the same as it was in 1999 when I started it."

And a wonderful site it is!

Michael said...

"It's part of what bonds us to the Drudge Report."

Tell me this isn't a tenured law professor saying this.

Michael said...

Gene Simmons missed the very first question on "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire."

The question: What is the medical term for a nose job.

Simmons: A pachyderm.

sonicfrog said...

Limbaugh, Hannity and all the right-wingers on radio that tried to push Romney on their audience during the primaries (and failed miserably, revealing how their audience could not really give a crap about what they think).

They only supported Romney when it became clear that McCain was already certain to win. Before that, Romney was not a "True Conservative". That is why R & H's late endorsement didn't do much for Romney.

Come to think of it, Rush, with his "Operation Chaos" had conservatives cross political lines to vote for Hillary. He failed at that too, but probably gave her enough leverage to force Obama to promise Clintonite appointees in his cabinet if she would drop out of the race.

How's for a nice little conspiracy.

No time for proof reading - must go walk to dogs. They're yelling at me.

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