26 September 2009

One month to pumpkin day

One month from today Yahoo!'s magic Geocities coach will turn into a pumpkin, and many terabyes of information on the web will be lost forever.

It's about 10 years since Yahoo! took over Geocities, one of the first social networking sites on the Internet. After destroying the social networking aspect of it (which is was one of the things that gave it its initial appeal) they will be closing it forever on 26 October.

Millions of people have created web pages on Geocities. Some of what they have posted there is good, some bad, some mediocre, and some is irreplaceable. Even if the information is moved to new sites, billions of links to it will be broken.

Some of the sites that will disappear have information on genealogy and family history. I've listed a few of them here, and anyone who wants to add more links to the list may do so, so that people can find them in the short time remaining.

But that is only a fraction of the information that will be lost.

Three years ago some of us had a synchroblog (the very first synchroblog ever), and my contribution was a journal article I wrote and posted on Geocities. Even if the article is moved to a new location, all the links in those synchroblog posts will be broken.

One of the other victims of this kind of Yahoo! destruction was WebRing. To quote them

It was 15 years ago that Ashland, Oregon, high school student Sage Weil created the piece of script that could link different sites into one ring, into one Web Ring.

Not long after sharing the technology, Sage formed WebRing and witnessed a meteoric rise in popularity. So popular, in fact, that WebRing soon came to be owned by GeoCities.

WebRing too was a form of social networking on the Web, and Yahoo! bought it and destroyed it. Fortunately there was enough of the community spirit left that some people took it back and tried to revive it, and now they are offering to rescue Geocities sites by offering them an alternative hosting site, and an opportunity to try to rebuild the communities that Yahoo! shattered.

Well it's one way of saving the pages, and I hope they have the capacity to do so, but unless they take over the domain, there's little chance of saving the links.

I suspect that many of the people who lost interest in Geocities when the social networking and community aspect was destroyed have now established themselves in alternative places like Facebook, MySpace and Orkut, and won't be bothered to go back.


James Higham said...

You mean the evening before All Hallows?

Steve Hayes said...


No, that's my other post: Evangelicals and Hallowe’en: Khanya.

This one alludes to Cinderella rather than Peanuts.


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