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malevolent design weblog

This blog is now defunct, but you can find more stuff over at my personal site

Stirring Things Up

One thing I really liked about the original MP3.com was the bottom 40 chart, and not just because it was great for finding musical oddities.

Appearing in the chart was a guaranteed way for a track to become more popular and so leave the bottom 40, to be replaced by another unappreciated masterpiece. That constant ‘convection’ didn’t have much impact overall, but spread casual listeners around a little. Dog Diarrhea was never going to make Boogers of Death rich and famous, but thanks to MP3.com they at least had a no. 2 hit of sorts.

Few portal and e-commerce sites use that same feature, but many do throw in various types of ‘turbulence’:

  • Random X
  • Newest Xs
  • Most-recently-updated Xs
  • Similar/related Xs
  • Featured X

Whether a site is giving access to weblogs, music, products, news, or people, it’s easy to assume good navigation should simply lead visitors to what they obviously want, but it’s often also hugely important to disrupt power laws and lengthen long tails. Everyone starts out as a Boogers of Death.


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