It’s October 26 here now, and I feel obligated to mark the day briefly, in public. To call it an important personal day would be a stretch, but it does bear some significance to me that Yahoo plans to pull the plug on GeoCities today.
Don’t misunderstand me: I am not now and never was so much a GeoCities fan that its passing becomes a heartbreaking event. But when I heard it was shutting down I had to take a moment and check a link that I hadn’t visited in almost a decade.
Yes, it’s shameful but true. A long time ago, when I was still new to these Intarnets, I tried to build a page or two on GeoCities. This was easily 1997 or 1998, and it was never more than a few scratchy HTML files linked with a random image or two. I never went so far as to smatter the page with rotating gif images, or embed midi tunes for my favorite TV shows. It was mostly an experiment, a sandbox, a place to dip my toes and check the water before getting serious.
Lo and behold, those cruddy little pages were still there. They hadn’t seen an update in a decade, and probably hadn’t been seen my any living being in almost as long (spiders don’t count ). It was embarrassing, but nostalgic at the same time.
I should probably pull those files off the servers before they’re deleted, but I don’t remember my password for the account. I looked at the archive.org plan to file all those sites away for “eternity,” but honestly, I could care less about my files. They’re a decade old, barely related at all to my life now, and I’d probably just throw them out anyway. Yahoo is doing me a favor, so to speak.
It’s still sad though — like your remembering your first bicycle, or finding an old teddy bear in the closet. Not so dramatic or serious as some other personal milestones, but I’m sure you understand.
Anyway, I’m probably not the only person to look back on GeoCities as an entry point to the 21st century. Maybe this is how future generations will mark their own maturation — by whether or not their first presence on the Web is still accessible, or if it was reset to a string of zeros on some corporate server somewhere. Welcome to the new human empathy.
P.S.: Link? Absolutely not.