Monday, October 26, 2009

RIP Geocities

Today, Geocities, one of the earliest free web hosting companies, is shutting down. SAD FACE.

I joined Geocities way back when it was called Geopages. This was in 1995, when it was organized into "neighbourhoods" (this was pre-Google, so the web had to be organized into hierarchies of links or you couldn't find anything), and I moved into one of the original 'hoods: Hollywood. I still have my address memorized: http://www.geocities.com/hollywood/1714/. It's still there as of 10:00 a.m. today, so go laugh at my awkward teenage writing while you can.

Actually, I've barely changed. Here's an excerpt from my "about me" page:

"My name is Mike, but I'm known as Phronk on the Internet (as well as to some people in real life.) I'm a 21 year old straight white male. At the moment I live in London, Ontario, and I go to The University of Western Ontario. There, now you have enough info to stalk me. Enjoy. If you want to talk to me, I have ICQ running most of the time. My UIN is 252842, but I'm probably the only Phronk there so you can just search for me. If you have IRC, I can occasionally be found on Asylumnet (irc.asylumnet.org)."

If you update the age, substitute MSN for ICQ, and Twitter for IRC, then nothing's changed. I still go to the same university, and I'm still straight and white.

I had a "web presence" before 1996, but even Archive.org doesn't keep records of the web from before then. If I recall correctly, it had lots of under-construction GIFs, web portal links, blink tags, and shout-outs to the 5 other people with web pages.1

I sometimes claim to have invented blogging. While perhaps a slight exaggeration, sometime in the mid-90s I realized that static web pages were boring and there was potential for web sites that would show people new content every time they visited. So I started my "Thing of the Day," in which I'd update my web site (by going in and editing index.html by hand) with a new thing — a link, a picture, an opinion, or some personal anecdote about my life — every day. It was only later that the term "blog" was coined to describe this concept.

I was also involved in the ultra-geeky Quake community that is credited with developing blogging in Wikipedia's history of blogging article. I recall chatting with John Carmack a few times on IRC and reading his finger updates (ew?), which were totally the original Twitter.

Anyway, RIP Geocities. You're the grandaddy of this blog. Maybe the grandaddy of all web content created by regular people. You'll be missed, but will live on in our memories (and Archive.org, and Google's cache).

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1 Actually, it looked a lot like xkcd's current tribute to Geocities.

11 comments:

Rachel said...

I didn't have a geocities page, but I had a webpage in 1996. I cringe at the content (which 12 year old me thought was totally quirky and cool - the Ebola virus, the Simpsons, and 90210 ALL IN ONE PLACE?!?) but I like that I can say I've been writing on the Internet for nearly 15 years.

angryredhead said...

Ohh, geocities! I remember those days. I used to have "virtual pets" everywhere, like dragons and dogs. And Neopets. Sigh.

shine said...

I can't believe GeoCities decided to shut down. Sad.

Also, this post reminded me that Al Gore invented the Internets.

carissajaded said...

Geez! congrats on keeping an internet presence for this long, that is truly a feat!

I remember geosites, but never had the close relationship that you did. Still.. sad!

S said...

Thank God it's gone.

I opened up an account on it years ago that I was never able to delete.

Ashley.SoItGoes said...

Most of this post was way out of my techie league. But it all sounded very impressive and by my account, you can be the inventor of blogging. Here's your crown- Wear it well

Phronk said...

Thanks everyone, for not pointing out that this post was basically saying "look at me; look how awesomely geeky I am." Which really isn't very awesome.

Rick "The Hat" Bman said...

I really wish I still had all my HTML pages saved from the original websites I made. I ran an X-Files fan site for awhile and a Twilight Zone fan site. All written using notepad of course, because that was the only way to do things. Next time I go over to my parents house I am going to try and find all my old floppy disks with my old websites on them.

Phronk said...

Hells yeah Notepad. I still do all my template stuff in Notepad (or the OSX equivalent). Pisses me off when programs wanna go all WYSIWYG on my ass.

Rick "The Hat" Bman said...

I remember having one of those little buttons on my site that said "Site created using Notepad. I did at one point move from Notepad to a program called Homesite. I don't even know if it exists anymore but it wasn't WYSIWYG, it was all text but it color coded the tags and had a few short cut keys here and there. The latest program I have used for web page editing was Dreamweaver. That was a couple years ago though, don't do much web site development these days. Aside from my blog of course and I try to keep that simple.

Unapologetically Mundane said...

So, not to comment on 100-year-old posts or anything, but I just found this and had to tell you that I'd been Geocitiesing since '98 and was totally sad to see it go. But when I posted about it (http://unapologeticallymundane.com/2009/10/27/geocities-is-dead-long-live-wordpress/), none of my friends seemed to mourn it in the same way I did. I don't know if that means my friends are way less nerdy than I am or way less sentimental than I am.