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Geocities, fragile data and ephemeral web

Today I finally managed to catch up on my podcast waiting list and, travelling by streetcar, listen to the latest of 99percent invisible (which I've been an avid admirer of for quite a while now), dealing with old days of internet culture this time:

"If we’ve learned anything from watching the turnover of tech giants like Yahoo and Myspace, it’s that internet darlings rise and fall — and there’s something darkly fascinating about watching it happen in real time.


While pretty obviously (screenshots included) it addresses the current numerous issues observed at Elon Musks Twitter, it's been really interesting and, in a way also nostalgically sad, to go again through the history of Geocities, its vision, its early nature and glory, its sad demise. It's definitely worth listening, for those who know and for those who don't just alike. It provides some interesting insights into Geocities trying to be that "community of interest" providing by-topic neighbourhoods and environments for people sharing the same passions (remember Area 51?), into how to save digital content from being erased with platforms crashing and burning (or being deliberately shut down and discontinued). It provides some insights into the weird economics of the post-2000s, post- Web 2.0 internet, the demise of "under construction" signs, the temporary nature of most of the content and connections in todays digital platforms. And it possibly also raises some questions newer, "open" technologies, the so-called, self-proclaimed "open web" or "indie web" most likely should be willing to discuss. Like: If both matters to you, it seems a good idea considering how to keep your content and your connections reasonably independent of particular platforms, especially if these are walled gardens. Or better: Think twice about fully selling yourself to some large entity that might cut your ties literally overnight. But also: Maybe it would be a good thing providing "easy-on" alternatives for Jane Doe (who doesn't know too much about technology and just wants her Dana Scully fan page to be somehow visible online) to create content and participate in the conversation - in the end, Geocities back then never was a tool for the self-hosting tech-savvy crowd but something deemed to be an "it-works" kind of environment for people searching for ways to digitally express themselves. The #fediverse, today, has a great bunch of ideas solving these dependencies on particular (potentially shady) players, but there's still room for improvement talking about being an "it-just-works" environment. Hopefully we see that improve before the next garden will start to prosper behind a shiny new wall... .

14. März 2023

Filed under:

tech , social networks , geocities