Timesify is a simple bookmarklet with an extremely useful premise: It camouflages guilty-pleasure sites, like TMZ or Buzzfeed, as serious news articles from the New York Times.
You simply drag the bookmarklet to your bookmark bar, navigate over to the latest Bachelorette news (or whatever you’re into), and click the Timesify button. Bam! That loud TMZ banner is replaced by a real, recent headline from the Grey Lady. A summary of New York Times story begins under a real news photo. And then, in discrete New York Times font — visible to no one with a casual view of your computer! — there’s the actual thing you want to read. Andi Dorfman’s defense of her life choices. Or capybaras being fancy. Or whatever tear-jerker is leading Upworthy today.
Here’s the before:
… and here’s the after:
The implementation is, needless to say, pretty funny — it actually won an award at New York’s Comedy Hack Day last weekend. But it also expresses a fundamental truth about Internet media that both readers and creators seem determined to ignore: Everyone claims to want serious news … but in practice, we all click the good stuff.
“Ask audiences what they want, and they’ll tell you vegetables. Watch them quietly, and they’ll mostly eat candy,” The Atlantic’s Derek Thompson wrote this week. “Audiences are liars, and the media organizations who listen to them without measuring them are dupes.”
Timesify puts it slightly less eloquently: “Go forth. Pretend to be something better than you are.”
Don’t mind if I do.