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Single-serving sites are web sites comprised of a single page with a dedicated domain name and do only one thing. While such sites have existed since the dawn of the internet, the meme was first identified by the popular link-blogger Jason Kottke in 2008.
The earliest known instance of single serving site can be attributed to Purple.com, a website without any content or links but a purple-colored background, which has been online since 1994. In 1995, wwwdotcom.com was launched, a website purported as The Last Page of the Internet. In 1997, Mike Kuniavsky launched Tired.com, a website that asks the reader if he/she is tired and if so, why.
The official Hamster Dance webpage began as a single serving site featuring nothing but a tiled, animated background of dancing hamsters. Upon crossing over into mainstream culture, however, the webpage soon grew into a multi-page site offering various Hamster Dance-related merchandises.
In 1999, Zombo.com was created, featuring nothing but a rotating color wheel. Although it lacks any utility, many view it as a parody of some of the useless sites that popped up during the dot com boom of the late 90’s. Ironically, the few sites from the 90’s that still exist in their original forms today are those that only do one thing, or nothing at all.
Meanwhile, the term “single serving site” was first used by Jason Kottke to describe websites that consist of only a single page in February of 2008.
Perhaps one of the most well-known single serving sites is yourethemannowdog.com, which started in 2001 with the simple image, 3d text, and audio clip of Sean Connery’s notorious line from Finding Forrestor. The format -- one piece of looping audio, a tiled background image, quasi-3D text effects -- was so widely replicated that Goldberg established YTMND as a community hub for this particular style of SSS. YTMND has gone on to launch many notable memes, including Captain Jean-Luc Picard, lol, internet, and Ueleleleleu (Batman).
In February 2008, San Francisco-based writer Mathew Honan launched a single serving site called Barack Obama is Your New Bicycle (barackobamaisyournewbicycle.com), which generates a random Barack Obama non sequitur like “Barack Obama spent his afternoon setting up your router” or “Barack Obama warmed up your car for you.”
The single-serving concept has more recently spread to microblogging platforms like Twitter and Tumblr, where people create “single-themed” blogs such as the Puddle Blog (which features daily photos of the same puddle) and Twitter accounts like the Tower Bridge Twitter, which documents the opening & closing of London’s landmark bridge and lets you know which ship was passing through. Also see: Single Topic Blogs.
In 2008, UC Berkely student Ryan Greenberg wrote a paper titled IsThisYourPaperOnSingleServingSites.com for his course “Information Technology and Identity: The Future of Storytelling,” which provides a detailed history and a comprehensive list of single serving sites sorted by categories.
Notable Single-Serving Sites
Instant Reaction Sites
- InstantRimshot.com is the earliest and best-known reaction site. Follows a successful joke or one-liner. Equivalent to “BADUM-TISH!” in spoken conversation.
- SadTrombone.com follows an ironic or tragicomic observation. Equivalent to the vocalized “sad trombone sound” in spoken conversation.
- Buurn.com (that’s three ’U’s) follows a stinging insult, comeback or retort. Equivalent to “Burn!”, “Zing!” or “Oh snap!” in spoken conversation.
- InstantCrickets.com follows a failed joke or non sequitur. Equivalent to an awkward silence in spoken conversation.
- IsKanyeWestaDouchebag.com answers the question for the reader: YES.
* HowManyPeopleAreinSpaceRightNow.com is a simple counter that provides the total number of astronauts current serving on the International Space Station. [UPDATE: 5/5/2011]
- DoNothingFor2Minutes.com: A two-minute test for sitting still in front of your computer without entering any input. A great patience builder! [UPDATE: 2/1/2011]