The critic David E. Nye has theorized that there might be an American technological sublime. That is, sometime during the Industrial Revolution, he writes, Americans substituted the seemingly divine awe they felt when looking at nature for the awe they experience gazing at machines. Trains, light bulbs, the a-bomb: The magnitude, the enormity of these, demand a reverence from us.
So, on this brisk, late autumn Thursday, I ask you: Is it possible that a single webpage, and its near miraculous URL, might evoke such a feeling in you?
The answer is yes. Here is the URL of that webpage: ButtGenerator.com.
And here is the full website visible thereon:
Indeed: It is a picture of a contented, cartoon butt. Seems simple. But visit the website itself, and you will find: The butt changes color when you click it.
Wait, there’s more: Click on one of the butt’s arms or legs, and they change color too. (I will not screenshot that, for I wish to leave to you the delight of discovery.) Neither, too, will I display a photograph of the Butt Generator working perfectly on a smartphone—that, too, is a magnum mysterium I will leave you to plumb.
The butt generator isn’t the only site of its kind. Single-serving sites—webpages that do one thing, and do it well—are an old Internet staple. There are useful sites, like “How Many People Are In Space Right Now?,” and there are little doodads, like Loudgif and Barack Obama Is Your New Bicycle. The phenomenon has been well-described in the pleasingly meta “Is This Your Paper On Single Serving Sites?.com.”