, 2008

The most popular destinations on the Internet are sites that let visitors do everything. At Yahoo! you can read news, find a date, research cars, and check the weather, among myriad other tasks. Shoppers at Amazon can buy almost anything. These Internet behemoths, sites like Wikipedia, MySpace, and MSN, span millions of pages in a bid to capture visitors’ attention as long as possible.

There is, however, a growing and unusual phenomenon where site authors pursue a different approach. Many people have created sites that span merely a single page and do one thing—or nothing. These sites, which writer Jason Kottke termed “single serving sites” in February 20081, capture visitors’ attention for a fraction of a minute, a tacit acknowledgement of the economy of attention in which they operate. In this space they express many traditional messages that have found an emerging new form of expression on the Internet. Dozens of tiny, single serving sites provide a venue for pop culture references, inside jokes, art displays, collective action, bids for peer approval, humor, and advice. Collectively they offer a perspective on the web as a platform for a unique brand of storytelling.