From the users perspective, it is a catwalk parading offerings you can see but not touch, a devious cross between a sushi train and a game of whack-a-mole that makes you to click on the next item over after you have made up your mind that the first item you saw was actually interesting.
So in that way it may exchange what you considered interesting with something you have yet to understand understand at the exact moment that you connect thought an action – creating a moment of serendipity or serendipitous frustration or a game of hide-and-seek or frantic pogo-sticking until your browser crashes.
It takes away your target and gives what did not think you cared for or didn’t know you wanted. It promises surprises – whether you seek those or not – and cares not about the questions or wishes you have brought to the party. It is a train ride where there are no stops and getting off is left to sheer luck and the emergency brake. Like an undocumented path that may speed, delay or thwart your passage to where ever you set out to go.
From the designer’s perspective it offers space where there is none. Suddenly, that precious real estate on your website can be multiplied with a magic contraption that truly is bigger on the inside. So whenever somebody says to the designer “I want to have my cake and eat it too”, he can use this tool to create what neither physics nor biology would allow. But why would somebody come to the designer and ask such a thing? Maybe driven by a deep seated fear of scrolling – a fear that is not held by the one talking to the designer, but that is believed by the one talking to the designer to be held by that one’s most precious possession: the user (who, according to this belief, would never dare venture beyond the fold). Or it is driven by a great love for all that you have created – and the desire not to let a single one of your babies wither away in the shadows beyond said fold.
So it goes
So from both sides it maybe is a symbol of passing time, how inconstant our wishes and desires are, how useless our travails. Also how insurmountable is our ability to invent, to create space where there was none. And yet how indomitable our will: because we all see that the user finds a way. Either on the page that greets him with a mirage of changing suggestions, or somewhere else.