ffffound — A few words for the nearly departed

Ben Pieratt
May 9, 2017 · 3 min read

Hello everyone,
thanks for coming.

It’s raining and the sun is going down. It’s getting cold out here so I won’t say much. I appreciate the opportunity to speak on this occasion.

ffffound opened my eyes to a whole new way of using and building the web. Its bookmarklet was a milestone. Like a tunnel system built overnight beneath a bustling city, we could suddenly move objects from one site to another. No longer just a place to transmit and gather secondhand artifacts, the web could now curate and dissect itself.

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Within a few years of ffffound’s launch, the web was teeming with services who’d picked up on its promise: Tumblr, Stumbleupon and Pinterest to name a few big ones; Dropular, Imgfave, Imgspark, Svpply, Weheartit, The Fancy, Ly.st, Gimmebar, lookk, Likeables, Nuji and Wanelo to name a few small ones.

ffffound taught me that if you can gather the right users in the right context, you can build a beautiful machine, churning out quality and quantity that defy automation. Deploying the right community with the right tools is like a judo move to the industry: minimum effort, maximum outcome.

ffffound showed me the value of being ugly and elegant at the same time. That stupid logo. Awful but perfect. Its useless sidebar navigation which I don’t think I used a single time. Not only did the uselessness not matter, it added to the site’s presence. Like a club door covered in shitty stickers, the grunginess of it only added to the experience.

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ffffound taught me about the romance and mystery of exclusion. It was impossible to get an invitation, which made it all that much better, both in content and in spirit. Either you were grateful to have it so you used it, or you couldn’t have it so you wanted it. I’ve been trying to reverse-engineer that level of coolness since.

ffffound taught me that a page is never a destination but another step down the rabbit hole. Its decision to populate each image page with not just related images, but the image history of every relevant user provided countless opportunities for further exploration and obsession. An ever widening funnel of options based on the organic decisions of each user’s experience. A lesson in UI and UX that I carry with me to every project.

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ffffound helped launch my career. My experience launching startups would probably never have happened if ffffound hadn’t shown me how elegant and impactful a tech company could be. The minimalism of its technology stack stood in obvious contrast to the top-heavy and cumbersome companies I’d gotten used to. I’d been working for a good 5 years as a designer before a mental combination of jjjjound and fffffound catalyzed the concept behind Svpply, a site whose reputation and impact I benefit from to this day.

All this to say,
thank you thank you thank you Yugo & team.

Your work was incredibly meaningful to me and others. ffffound will go down in history as one of the all-time greats.

Now lets get out of this rain and build what’s next.

PS. In 2009 Eric and I built an export tool for fffffound. With some API fixes and a bit of effort, its back up and semi-working. It’s hosted at ddddownload.club in its original form if you’d like to sync your (or anyone else’s..) ffffound archive to your dropbox.

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