Stupid User Generated Content Aggregators

Posted on December 12, 2006

Are some of the most successful websites really just aggregators of massive amounts of stupid content and hideous templates? Aaron Swartz included a theory called "The Stupidity of Crowds" in his post on his Raw Thought blog about the habits of the most successful websites.

I believe in a theory I'll call "The Stupidity of Crowds". Here's the basic idea: if just one person or a small group of people builds a website, they have to be at least moderately intelligent. Buying servers and writing programs is somewhat hard and takes a little bit of brainpower. This means that the content for their site will be similarly intelligent and thus it won't be of interest to the vast majority of Internet users.

The glorious thing about the Internet, however, is that it allows us to aggregate the combined stupidity of literally millions of people. No longer do you have to try to play towards the lowest common denominator -- now you can actually have the lowest common denominator build your site for you. No single mortal could possibly come up with the content you find on the average MySpace, let alone the hideous color scheme, garish backgrounds, and awful auto-playing background music. No, something like that takes The Stupidity of Crowds.

The large social media and social networking websites are aggregating a massive amount of boring, mediocre and hideous content. At least these social media sites won't destroy Western civilization. Part of the reason for the popularity is that people know someone who created the a tiny bit of the content such as a profile on Facebook or MySpace. A tiny bit of the aggregated content on Facebook or MySpace can be interesting on a personal level to a few individuals while at the same time being excruciatingly boring to the majority of the people living on Earth.

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