A history lesson

Things has been online for nearly 18 years. Our first website was hosted by demon and still lingers on somewhere, and then we switched to things.org.uk, scraps of which still exist in the Internet Archive. It’s strange how such comparatively recent history now has to be sifted and searched for like an archaeological dig. In around September 2001 we decided to adopt the new-fangled ‘weblog’ format (‘The things editors hope that the weblog format will make updating the site less of a chore’). After seven years of working with Blogger, we switched to WordPress in March 2010. Since then the site has bumbled along with a mix of ancient templates and hand-coded html. Traffic has steadily and relentlessly declined, from a high of 328,965 annual visits in 2011 to around a quarter of that today. Yet being interested in ‘things’ is more popular than ever; the idea of a site that found the hidden gems in the internet riverbed was once relatively rare. Now, everyone wants the glint of something shiny and gets served up a relentless stream of stuff. How much longer can we last?

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10 Responses to A history lesson

  1. wmud says:

    As the author/curator of the Cosmic Inspiro-Cloud tumblr that you featured some years ago,, I can say that this accurately mirrors my own experience – around 57,000 hits in 2011 falling to 19,000 in 2016 and likely to be lower in 2017. The reality is that I was doing it for myself – a sort of Pinterest before its time – so I’m not inclined to stop, for now at least. I hope you keep going – it’s a great resource. W

  2. Rupert says:

    For me, this is an important to log and time capsule all the things that are curious and fascinating about the world. This is a beautiful site and without it, the internet would be a dark miserable unlearnt place. Thank you for the double-decades worth of work you put into this site. It truely is a wonderful place to visit and I hope you guys don’t lose that motivation to keep things going.

  3. Wow. 18 years! I think I’ve been coming to Things for at least 15 of those years. Thank you for the countless treasures you’ve unearthed. As a young, curious person, Things was my window into the weirdness of the Internet. Today, as an older, and still curious person, Things is my inspiration as a designer and creative technologist. Things has, without a doubt, advanced my career by exposing me to ideas outside of my chosen path. I understand that the ‘relentless stream of stuff’ is popular, but what you do is important to me and I bet to many others. I’ll understand, if you decide to shut Things down. But I want you to know how much of an impact you’ve had on my life as a creative, curious person. Thank you!

  4. Bob Colliver says:

    A good long while hopefully… Random wikipedia articles only get a guy a so far so I stop by at least once a week. I’m in Denver, but American arcanery doesn’t hold a candle to yours!

  5. thomaseagle says:

    I second Miles Gilbert (but I haven’t been coming here nearly as long) – Things has had, and continues to have, a very positive impact on me too, and I’ve proudly shared gems you unearthed, and been pleased to think that on those days, your site would be an exciting discovery for unsuspecting friends.

    Thank you for your time, effort, wide-ranging fascination and impeccable taste. I hope you don’t pay too much attention to the numbers in your analytics service… they don’t tell the whole story.

  6. JE says:

    FOREVER. You’re still a constant source of interest in my life. Been a great thing for me over the past 8+ years. Thanks so much!

  7. Matt Muir says:

    As another person who does one of these things (Web Curios, since you asked), I echo the comments above – I do it for myself, largely, as otherwise I’d never remember stuff. Thanks for bothering – yours is always a pleasure to read

  8. A says:

    Just because the numbers seem to be declining, doesn’t necessarily mean they are: a lot of people use add-ons and apps to block data-trackers now, which means there are loads of page-hits going unrecorded. People talk about declining readership all the time, but nobody seems to take into account that more and more people are finding ways to block data-trackers but still visiting all their old favourites sites… (like me!)

  9. Mel Nitram says:

    There are a couple of things that sets you apart: The simple design of the site, the quality of the written introductions, the thematic approach to content; each post constituting a discrete entity. You consistently manage to do something distinctive with the same things that are available to everyone on the Web. That is art.

    As for how much longer you can last… well, I’ve been following you on and off for about 10 years now, and I’m always happy to find you are still around.

  10. Nina says:

    One of the most unfortunate developments in the Internet space in the last several years, concurrent with the rise of social media, is the extreme decline of comments and attention on websites, but the comments you’ve received so far are lovely. things is a valuable and delightful horde of interesting stuff. I stop by every week, and have often shared and attributed what I’ve found here. Though I’d understand if you shut it down, it would be a significant loss that all of us (and I’m sure many others) would miss very much.

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