I dedicate this dripping blood bar to the memory GeoCities, which was shut down by Yahoo last week:
GeoCities – or GeoShitties, as we all oh-so-cleverly called it – began in 1994 as a community of themed “virtual cities.” There’s a list of all the GeoCities neighborhood names that ever existed on this page, which also offers an illuminating explanation of how the whole process worked:
When GeoCities first started offering free web pages to the public, they decided to create themed neighborhoods. Each neighborhood was then divided into blocks (each block was numbered between 1000 up to 9999). A user would then adopt a block and thus create their own pages within that block. Thus, a user would then have their own web pages located at a URL in this format:
http://www.geocities.com/neighborhood/XXXX (“XXXX” would be a four digit number). The whole management of each Neighborhood was run by volunteers – known as ‘Community Leaders’ (CL’s), which is what made the GeoCities experience so special.
This whole process was known as “homesteading”, and each user had their own “homestead”. Community Leaders helped out each “homesteader”, and created a friendly atmosphere which contributed to the rapid explosion of personal web pages on the internet.
And though it’s probably been years since any of us have even looked at a GeoCities page (and that’s probably a good thing), to some of us, those pages, with “BourbonStreet” and “SoHo” in their URLs, represented a special time: the period in which audiovisual sharing first really took off on the web. Geocities, along with Angelfire and Tripod, were among the first wave of free personal self-expression sites for the masses. It was the first time that people who weren’t born-and-bred web geeks began to establish an earnest online presence, clumsily piecing together basic HTML (“hello! border = 0!” was the big insult to fling at someone whose page lacked a certain finesse). Sure, it contaminated the web with a lot of bad poetry, but it also brought us a plethora of wonder: band fan sites, zine reviews, scanned photos of interesting strangers from across the world.
GeoCities will completely cease to exist by the end of the year, and all its sites will be wiped from the face of the web forever. Feast your eyes on few of the relics that will be soon be gone [edit: But there's hope! æon writes in the comments, "jason scott of bbs documentary fame and a team of volunteers are archiving the whole thing." Click here to learn of their valiant efforts.]:
- Kristy’s Riot Grrrl Review
- Panpleasant Profederacy of Eris Proleteriat
- How to Dance Gothic (this and other sites like it are basically where Voltaire scraped all the jokes/lore for his “how to be goth” Hot Topic bestsellers from)
So… anyone here remember a beloved Geocities site that they’d like to share? Anyone here guilty of actually having ever made their own Geocities page? Let us take a moment to commiserate and recall our first memories of the web, our favorite haunts, the ways we discovered one another. Efnet. Dalnet. Undernet. Midgaard. Webrings. Guestbooks. X of the Y sites. ASCII-embellished sigs. BBSes. Alt.barney.dinosaur.die.die.die.
What was your first circle of friends on the web? Do you still keep in touch with them? Where did you get your first taste of this great series of tubes?