Recently I was whining about the lack of original material on the Mac web. I opined that more and more Mac sites were just republishing press releases and not linking to or producing any original content. While I expected a lambasting, I was surprised to find not many people disagreed. A few folks did have some complaints: one e-mailer accused me of pandering for using the word “Sucks” in the title, another e-mail suggested I was emasculated for not naming names and providing links and one e-mailer defended a site. The rest of the e-mails, the overwhelming majority, agreed with my take on the “Major” Mac sites (of course, this doesn’t mean that a majority of people actually agree with me, just the ones that e-mailed). Most people kind enough to write also pointed me to their personal favorite Mac sites, which I dutifully looked over and passed judgment upon. Now, as a public service, two sites you might not visit but probably should:
MacDailyNews: A fairly complete news source, they don’t post every single press release so the going is much better than some other sites. The stories are well chosen, when I look down the page it seems as though every story is worth a read. My only gripe is that MDN doesn’t seem to point to many opinion pieces on other Mac sites. Sure my twaddle isn’t interesting but somewhere on the Mac web I’m sure an interesting morsel can be found on a daily basis
Surf-Bits: This is a site I had never seen before but one I am glad I found. You’ve seen the look before (though I like the colors) and the forums don’t have much action but it’s done by a switcher so the perspective is that much more interesting.
Those are just two sites I now visit on a regular basis. The more interesting thing I found was just how much worthwhile content exists that most people (well interested people) never see. The reason most people never see the fine writing is that it is so regularly interspersed with pure shinola. One can click around a few times and hope to find something decent but after reading the fourth or fifth article that has the same tired slant with varying degrees of writing proficiency on the same tired subject I can see why people give up (You’re mad that Panther costs $129? Do tell).
Other sites look like two howler monkeys fighting over a wounded parrot sound, and by that I mean they look awful. The writing, originality, insight might all be great, but if I’m mentally calculating which is faster: clicking the home button in Safari or gouging my eyes with a fork (anything for sweet relief) then I’m probably not going to have time to really appreciate the subtly nuanced writing.
So now we have dilemma: really good stuff exists in abundance but finding it is tiresome because the top notch is surrounded by the very repetitive, or the just plain ugly. Here’s my solution: If you’re a daily update kind of place, don’t just link to the piece in the Times that David Pogue wrote, go the extra mile and find a nice web only piece that somebody who doesn’t get paid much cranked out. They’re not going to steal your hits; heck folks will come back looking for the next jewel you’ve uncovered. If you’re just someone searching for content of interest (like me) don’t be afraid to pass the link on if you found something nifty. And finally, don’t stop looking, the enjoyable content isn’t a Shangri La fantasy, it actually exists.
Now I am going to take my own advice and point you to web sites where I discovered some niftiness. Sites that left me intrigued are: Applematters.com, daringfireball.net, billpalmer.net and, for that outer geek, codepoetry.net. A few things to remember: this is not an inclusive list, just some sites I found to my personal liking. Why? No endless press releases on these sites, no “oh panther is gonna be so kewl can’t wait til Friday” type stuff. Instead these sites offer a bit of originality and little unique perspective. *
The lesson I take away from this exercise: The good stuff is out there though it can be a bit frustrating to find. Except for MacSurfer, not many sites are going to point you to that odd little corner of the web with the article that can make your day a bit more enjoyable or enlightening. My resolution is to spend less time becoming nauseated by reading yet another uncredited press release and spend that time looking for something worthy of my attention. Finally, when I find something particularly worthwhile I’ll tell someone else about it.
*Some of these sites will probably be gone by the time the article is published. Most sites don’t last long. One story I have heard involves MyMac and David Pogue (before he got all New York Timesy). Tim Robertson asked Mr. Pogue if he thought MyMac would make it. David Pogue said “Probably not”. He was wrong in this instance but he was right about the odds of any Mac site sticking. See this article and this article for some nice examples.