Gary Wolf’s The Tragedy of Craigslist, in this month’s Wired, is full of both brilliance—
“I’m not interested in politics. I’m interested in governance,” [Craig Newmark] says. “Customer service is public service.”
… Universal search subverts craigslist’s mission to enable local, face-to-face transactions; it increases the risk of scams and can be exploited to snatch up bargain, giving technically sophisticated users an advantage over casual browsers.
On this site, contrary to every principle of usability and common sense, you can’t easily browse pictures of the apartments for rent.
But seen from another angle, craigslist is one of the strangest monopolies in history, where customers are locked in by fees set at zero… .
The article’s introduction asks, “Craig Newmark started a galactic garage sale with millions of users, a killer business model, and revenue to match. So why is the site such a wreck?” Wolf then suggests that Craig’s laid-back quirks-slash-principles keep him from caring about the fact that craigslist is a wreck. The article never takes seriously the the possibilities that craigslist went galactic because it’s a wreck, or that that craigslist is a wreck because it’s galactic. Wired seems to have it in for craigslist because craigslist is boring—but craiglist is only boring if you care more about spiffy Web 2.0-compliant glitz than about transformative services and sustainable communities.