Wired Takes on Craigslist

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Researching my recent feature on bartering in Boise, I’ve had to log a considerable number of hours scrolling through the monotony that is Craigslist’s sea of endless blue text. But, not once did I think, “Man, why hasn’t somebody come out with a better Craigslist?”

Well, Wired journalist Gary Wolf did. And he took the question to the man himself, San Francisco’s Craig Newmark. What resulted is a can’t-peel-your-eyes-off-the-page portrait that asks some tough questions of a man whose business has had marked effects on everything from the collapse of newspaper classified sales to the accessibility of prostitution. Though the self-described “Forrest Gump of the Internet" at times comes off as a jerk, giving vague, monosyllabic retorts to Wolf’s prodding questioning, at others, he seems adorably dorky. Wolf observes:

“When [Newmark] talks, he calls upon a repertoire of conversational gambits he has been collecting forever, and he has a selection of sound effects on his mobile phone, such as a cymbal crash, that he can trigger to make it clear he is joking.”

Or this other gem:

“On our way out of the cafe, I step aside to let Newmark go ahead, and he walks face-first into the plate glass door.”

But Newmark’s awkward nerdiness aside, Wolf’s piece raises some much needed questions about a site that claims to espouse democratic ideals and champion the inherent goodness of people, but at the same time steadfastly resists change and development at every turn.

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