I went looking for random links today. Not the usual clicking on links until you found yourself at a site completely unrelated from where you started but rather I thought I would cut to the chase and just go random.
There are surprisingly few well established systems for this. There clearly used to be many more as mangle’s link page shows - and I think that the vast majority of the active ‘good’ random links generators are all listed here. Ironically Mangle’s own random link generator currently has a bug in the code and simply will not work. Which is itself a pity really because some of the ideas being suggested by the interface look very interesting - country specific, safe search (clearly an important feature for any random link generator), language and a seed word.
But from the interfaces diverge - in some very interesting ways. It is quite clear that if you said to a programmer, “go and create a random link generator”, who knows what you will get.
Uroulette - which is a very clever name - gives a list of random links like a conventional search page. The fact that it is impossible to spot if there is any keyword that is generator the links - I had a list that included In-n-Out Burger and the University of Southern California and Bowland Forest Gliding Club. I’m pretty sure there is no relation but at the same time, after about four or five goes, I stilled struggled to find a useful(?) or interesting(?) links (but then I can’t expect and ESP plugin I suppose. The colour theme is a bit loud (if that is really a problem).
Diddly offers a different focus and produces a random page of images from Bing. It seems to work on the filenames automatically generated by most popular models of cameras (e.g. P000…jpg or MVC000.jpg). What this seems to prove is that the owners of most popular models of cameras take really uninteresting photos … mainly group shots of people, personal transportation and computer parts. I despair sometimes.
Bananaslug seems to take a different approach to the issue and takes a keyword that the user enters and then combines it with a category “jargon words”, “colours” or “last names”. The result lists are more ‘ordered’ but they equally seem to lack the fairly of anything really random (and sort of consequently misses the point).
Wild Mood Swings asks you for your mood and then pops up a website that tries to accommodate that mood. The links that come up seem to be the same - so again not really random (but some interesting sites popping up nonetheless).
My two favourites though are a bit more unusual. Web Collage takes some random images from the web and fades them together. The page reloads automatically but if your force reloads the pages that load present images that are only slightly different. A conscious attempt to pull across a sequence would make an interesting animation - that is if ‘interesting’ means slightly dubious photos interspersed with random architecture shots and close ups of nondescript objects.
Mangle’s Random Earth is really interesting. A random location seen through Google Earth at a define zoom. The London filter makes for an interesting trivia quiz model…