Monday, October 26, 2009

In Memorium

Let us take a moment to pay our respects to a fallen giant.
Long before your favorite Parent Teacher Organization configured the RSS feed on their blog to keep you up to date on the meetings you would rather skip, before you were forced to abandon whole email addresses to purge an Instant Messenger contact list, and before your mom started following you on Twitter, a service existed and was embraced by the semi-technical.
GeoCities allowed anyone to make a website, and people did.
Almost 28 Million users were active per month in 2002, which isn't bad considering Yahoo had purchased the service in 1999 for a mere $4 billion. In 2002, that was a substantial percentage of total Internet traffic.
And without the brave features pioneered by GeoCities, I have no doubt that the current face of social networking would be a bleak and desolate place, devoid of embedded music files, tiled backgrounds, and spinning animated images.
In the course of allowing everyone to design their own webpage for free, GeoCities also amassed what is arguably the largest collection of awful color combinations and "Under Construction" images with little working guys, all backed up nightly and served up to meet the high-traffic demands of the day.
GeoCities bravely told the growing throng of internet users,"Come here, you! There is room for whatever the hell it is you think looks good right here on our servers!"

"Whatever your technical ability, design certification or taste, we've got a place for you." And people came, making GeoCites the third most visited domain in 1999, right after AOL and Yahoo.

Apparently, 1999 was an extremely dark time for the internet.
15MB of free storage online was a pretty sweet deal in 1999, though. You could cram dozens of images into that.
Fortunately, is stepping up to save what it can for posterity.
My daughter has grown up in an Adobe Flash world. It is comforting to know that she will still be able to visit an animated Gif in an online museum in the event some school project requires it.
AOL and Yahoo, huh?
It's amazing anyone stayed online at all.

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