Tacky? Macabre? Helpful? Slickly commercial?
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January 8, 1997
That a single site has been groomed to be the collective online ambassador for these magazines should come as no surprise, especially considering the extent to which they are united by their interest in Madison Avenue's favorite attention-getter -- sex. Indeed, overt allusions to the erotic are woven into Swoon in an even more seamless and relentless manner than in its offline counterparts, various features from which are refashioned for the site.
Swoon's core components, personal ads and astrological forecasts, have a decidedly carnal flavor and a distinct emphasis on interactivity. In the personals section, for example, by answering the question "How far would you travel for love?" on the romantic-preferences survey, you can narrow down the geographical selection of respondents to your ad. (Don't expect a reply from Mauritania anytime soon, however.) The horoscope lets you locate your ideal "Love Match" by typing in your sign and that of an amorous prospect to see if an encounter would be star-spangled or star-crossed; learn what your rising sign is; and even dabble in numerology and Chinese astrology. Elsewhere on the site you'll find the requisite advice columns, forums, real-time chats, and a smattering of other online-only features. Mindless stuff it may be, but at least it is consistently (if not always deliberately) amusing.
As its tag-line announces, Swoon aims to be no less than the bible of "dating, mating, and relating" (though you might detect a tongue in the cheek of that announcement). Pseudo-pornographic, unabashedly trendy, Swoon numbs even as it titillates. But the site's innovative approach to interactivity (angling for attention with promises of erotic revelation), and its appeal to the combined audiences of distinct yet related magazines within one corporate family, may offer a glimpse of what to expect as publishers seek viable ways to make money online. That in itself is reason enough to visit the site. Be careful, though, lest you get swept off your feet.
Copyright © 1997 by The Atlantic Monthly Company. All rights reserved.