Useless Site of the Day
This article, featured on internet underground in 1995, helps us find more about the beginnings of the useless www pages and especially some info about Phillips and Berlin. You can find more on the subject by reading A Brief History of Uselessness on the web
There’s no shortage of sites on the Web that seemingly serve no purpose. This axiom is evident to anyone who has spent more than 10 minutes on the Net, but it took Paul Phillips to corral all those pur- poseless sites into the aptly titled Useless Pages.
It all started when Phillips, a 23-year-old student at the University of California at San Diego and self- confessed “computer nerd,” was doing some late night surfing and he stumbled upon someone’s CD collection. Phillips at the time was working for Primus, an Internet technology services company. When he posted his find- ing on a usenet group, others instantly barraged him with pointers to other sites that were just as, well, useless. “I discovered a whole undercurrent of desire to point this kind of thing out,” Phillips said.
The site took off, but all that banality took a toll. Last spring, Phillips’ enthusiasm lagged. “I just got so useless-est out” said Phillips, who was getting more than 100 suggestions a day.
One of those suggestions was from Steve Berlin, a longtime fan of the Useless Pages, who at the time was working in an office that he described as a “virtual Dilbert strip.” Berlin, whose T-shirt collection was one of Phillips’ first useless sites, noticed the pages had not been updated recently. He e-mailed Phillips an volunteered to take over, an offer Phillips gladly accepted.
Although the site may be called “Useless” it’s been anything but for Berlin, a 33-year-old Bay Area resident who parlayed his quest for the vain into a full-time job at Yahoo. Checking out newly submitted sites for a living helps Berlin find plenty of useless sites. He also surfs for over an hour a day in a clut- tered work space just outside San Francisco.
Both Phillips and Berlin said that most people enjoy having their sites included on the Useless Pages. Phillips said the only person who ever got upset was a guy who published an entire site in Gaelic, who pointed out he had a right to publish a site in his own native tongue on the World Wide Web.
Phillips hasn’t completely forsaken his page, checking in from time to time as a “Useless Emeritus.” For now, his agenda is filled with more purposeful pursuits like designing Boa, his own Web browser, and writing a game for Java.