Candid, Anonymous Online Collections: Popularity Beyond the Web
Peyton Crump, Former Design Director
We’ve all reveled in the guilty pleasure of the “fly on the wall” phenomenon before: how about the time you found the love note on the playground at school that was intended for a different recipient; or, the time you stood on the other side of a wall overhearing a conversation that you were never meant to hear? Although the idea isn’t new, the web is proving on yet another level that candid postings attract attention and can prove profitable. Two sites that I find entertaining are overheardintheoffice.com, a collection of overheard office conversations, and postsecret.com, a collection of anonymously revealing postcard messages. But beyond the curiosity I find in the day-to-day candor and oddity of human thought and conversation, I notice that, on both of these sites, the creators have managed to publish books of their collections. Ingenious, I have to say. Set up a site that appeals to our curiosity of the candid, let the public post away, collect, and publish in book form (easier said than done, but still a generally straightforward model). It seems that publishing companies may be increasingly interested in taking these online collections and reproducing them in print, although I’m personally not aware of other examples. There have to be others. So there it is. Human nature -- unedited and uninhibited, an appeal to our curiosity, shared on the web -- finding its way into print, and a couple of witty site publishers enjoying the dividends. Another effective, but simple, example of the web at work.