Barbelith Webzine launches
June 3, 2001 8:38 AM   Subscribe

Barbelith Webzine launches - created by Tom Coates of Plasticbag fame. Some interesting articles based on discussions from the Barbelith Underground messageboard. Good design too.
posted by adrianhon (13 comments total)
Interesting site. I'll keep an eye on it.
posted by RylandDotNet at 9:47 AM on June 3, 2001

hey, it's like a cross between disinfo and beast bay :) nice!
posted by kliuless at 9:48 AM on June 3, 2001

spanking gorgeous, that. excellent read, too.
posted by minor 9th at 11:34 AM on June 3, 2001

Gee, I remember when he was just Tom of Barbelith fame. I guess what comes around goes around, or everything old is new again, or words to that effect.

But I have to say those banner-like thingys look awfully familiar.
posted by jjg at 12:39 PM on June 3, 2001

The layout is a poor man's Salon.
posted by donkeyschlong at 12:48 PM on June 3, 2001

Overtones of other sites apart, it still looks a darn neat design.
posted by williamtry at 1:18 PM on June 3, 2001

jjg, Tom posted about the banners a few weeks ago on They're meant to look awfully familiar.
posted by prolific at 2:35 PM on June 3, 2001

I figured as much. The similarities were too obvious to be anything but intentional, and everybody knows Tom's talented enough not to have to steal design elements.
posted by jjg at 3:28 PM on June 3, 2001

The layout is, I'll have you know, a CHEAP man's Salon - which is not the same thing at all. Let's start with the button. It is true that they were meant as part homage and part parody, as I detailed (as prol states) but they are not there without anxiety. I actually posted about the anxiety on - about the mixture of homage and piss-take that they were supposed to be, and yet how somehow I still felt like a bit of a phony for doing it.

I'm still angsting about that particular battle, but I have to say that as a design element I do think they work particularly well and I'd like to keep them - whether or not I decide to find some way of styling them differently or organising them differently I have yet to decide. One of the marks of how good a strategy I think they are has to be that I did spend a good seven hours trying to find different ways to get the same effect in a different way so that if I did finally decide that the conscious use of them was innappropriate that I had an alternative. Every time I failed to find something better. When it comes right down to it, the Guardian got that stuff dead on.

I also talked to various web people about it - including our very own Matt Haughey. Most of them told me to relax.

As to the layout of the page in general - it's a CHEAP man's Salon rather than a poor one's. Completely different. Actually, it owes much more to the UBB layout than to Salon, in my opinion. I wanted to build something that wouldn't feel incongrous next to the UBB without ripping (clumsily) through the UBB's code and hacking it to death. This was a very conscious decision - one part of the site was stuck in one way, and it made sense to me that the rest should adapt to fit in with it and expand from it. Clearly I looked at sites that had good content layouts as well, including The Guardian, Salon and the BBC but mostly the way it emerged was as a result of what I could force Greymatter to do within a fairly restrictive design remit. I think it's gone ok...

But the content... What about the content?
posted by barbelith at 4:59 PM on June 3, 2001

Oh arse - I used the same cheap joke twice.
posted by barbelith at 4:59 PM on June 3, 2001

Webzines that work follow a generally similar layout: Feed and SeeThru, for example, use a graphic with teaser for their lead story, denoted in some way from the rest of the current articles. And yes, Salon follows this model too. So who copied who? And didn't print get there first? As Tom has pointed out, it's cheap, not poor.

The content? Fantastic.
posted by brainsluice at 5:09 PM on June 3, 2001

If we are going to split semantic hairs, I suggest a frugal man's Salon.

I like this starting line-up of articles, but I feel like the authors held back a lot. Is there a single page limit? Was it a rush to just get it out in public to start stimulating neurons?

I have to admit to only catching the outer edge of the underground. I also only read the first few Invisibles. I decided to wait till I had the whole thing and crash through it Ironman style. Maybe even do it while on a solo camping trip in the middle of the forest Walden style. They are all sitting in one box. Stacked with others Arc of the covenant style.
posted by john at 8:32 PM on June 3, 2001

posted by kv at 10:26 PM on June 3, 2001

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