Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Final Web Log

The web is dead, but the internet isn't.  Security and other concerns have driven traffic to popular, seemingly trustworthy and newer sites.  Apps on smartphones and tablet devices drive data directly from servers to the enduser's device.  It seems weird to be nostalgic for the world wide web, but there you go. 
That's where we are.

Here are a few of my favs from back in the day.  Some are still around, but many are defunct or in virtual stasis.

theeldritchcorporation (schwa)
www.schwa.com (defunct)
circa 1992ish
An art site based loosely on the concept of stickmen and world domination. My guess is that the artist just got tired of it.  It was very well done and had begun to implement newer techniques when it disappeared.

www.weirdlinks.com (defunct)
late 90s, early 2ks
This guy was entertaining yet he just seemed a bit unstable.  Best links of weirdness, however, in the whole internets.

www.geocities.com (defunct)
90s and early 2ks
The best free hosting of its day.  It could have been the first social network, if only Yahoo hadn't simply been so short-sighted when they bought it out.

early 2ks-present
An art site with post-modern, random pages which are interactive in odd ways.  You could spend hours there doing nothing and be amazed that you had done it. You still can, but you won't be as amazed.  This site appears to be in stasis.

obscure store (and reading room)
late 90s, early 2ks
The only site on the list without its own domain name. This was a site started by a artist who was trying to sell his fanzine.  It lives on, somewhat, in his blog, JimRomenesko.com.

subterannean cinema
unknown start, ended 2012
A site dedicated to Subterranean Cinema.  It was awesome.  One of the oddest things was when Shane Ballard, a 22 year old iconoclast and friend of the webmaster, ran for Sheriff of a Mississippi county.  The site covered how he and his documentarian were both killed in strange and tragic deaths after the movie was released.  The site is gone, but you can visit the archive at archive.org:

Hugh's Ominous Valve Works
A totally analog celebration 'Mr. Valve', Hugh's Ominous Valve Works was almost an alternate reality. 'Ursigram'?  This site is still around, and does update, although very rarely. 

early 90s-present
Who could leave out the site that broke the Monica Lewinsky story?  Matt Drudge has probably obtained the most success of any of these pages... at least the most notoriety, anyway.

A German site that listed when and where you could see almost any object in the sky.  Way ahead of its time, Heavens Above showed me where to look to see the MIR and Space Shuttle were docked, and each pass as they separated.  It also showed me where the MIR was as it made the final passes around the planet before re-entering the atmosphere and buring up.

early 90s-present
Webcrawler was the search engine bought out by AOL, bringing its glory days to an end.  But it was the first engine I ever used, and was the first to index whole web pages back in 1994.

news of the weird
Another site that compiled current odd news and items from around the world that still exists and looks just like it did back then.

www.stories.com (defunct or writing.com)
This was the first place I kept an online journal, which you'd probably call a 'blog' today, although it wasn't really a web log.  I had written TONS of stuff on there when they made it a pay only site and deleted everything!  That was heartbreaking.  I think it eventually became 'writing.com'.  The domain is now a completely different site, and has nothing to do with the original site from the mid-90s.

late 90s-present
Not one of the first free email services, but probably one of the best.  It was great until Microsoft bought them out.  I rarely use it anymore, but it used to be THE standby email addy to have.

Beliefnet was a place where you could be whatever religion you wanted and complain about whatever you wanted.  There was a real odd sense of community there.  The whole 9/11 thing ended that.  The site still exists, but isn't at all the same.

random website
Want to kill an afternoon in the early 2ks?  Hit up randomwebsite.com and it was gone.  Good old Bob and his pipe will take you to the next stop on your journey.  I quit using it when the cached site began to include malicious ones.  When this happened, it probably contributed to the death of the WWW.

And then there are the ones I never liked, but became insanely popular:

In the mid-90s, I really wanted to start a search engine.  I saw what Webcrawler did, but KNEW it could be better.  The basic code for a search engine was released, and I started work on it.  I had neither the equipment I needed nor access to capital to obtain those things in order to make it effective.  No one around here seemed to care about the internet and when I approached someone I worked with at GE about it in 1997, he said to me, "...ain't nobody care about no dot-dot-dash-dash."
Seriously.  I still remember the stupid look on his face. 
Anyway, Google popped up and blew everyone away with the gaslighting motto: Don't be evil.  Yeah.

late 2ks-present
This isn't really an older site, but the latest in the series of blabber-about-nothing sites that has plagued the internet.  Myspace with a... well, it is basically myspace without the ability to modify your home page, without the ability to put your band's music up in a player on the page, and without any soul whatsoever.

early 2ks-present
"A place for friends"... became a place for weirdos.  But I kind of grew to like it, due to its vague similarity to geocities and other things.  At one point, Myspace was more popular than the telephone.  When they began to crack down on customization of your page, due to understandable security concerns, I lost interest.  Fox News bought it and it straight-up died.  I wonder if Tom is in Gitmo?

What was it about Fark?  I kind of liked fark.  It still exists, but I never got into it.  I don't know why... It was the logical end to web logging. Or was it the beginning?

I think I've been there a dozen times or so.  Never even got a login.

And then there are countless bulletin board forums that I've joined and liked or hated over the years.  I can't even think of one, now, which is odd.  For such a long time they were THE place to go to interact.

Honorable mention:
Not really a website, but the ICQ client truly opened up the world.  AOL cornered this market, but ICQ was the first strong GUI, user-friendly chat and instant messenger.

Now that I've gotten into this, I realize the more I reminisce, the more sites and things I think about putting on here, so I'd better stop while I'm ahead.