GeoCities was a once very popular web hosting service founded in 1994 and purchased by Yahoo in 1999. Marked by its once-generous allotment of 15 megabytes and the free (with added advertisements) price, it was at one point the 3rd most-browsed site on the World Wide Web.
Because the site was free and marketed primarily to first-time or relatively new internet users, the quality of websites on GeoCities became a persistent, oft-referred joke - the amateurish layout, use of animated gifs, and prone-to-personal websites dominated the standard GeoCities pages, and were often abandoned by their owners for good soon after finding better approaches to telling their stories or showing off their data.
In April 2009, Yahoo announced they would be closing GeoCities "later this year". In July of 2009, Yahoo announced the firm date of October 26, 2009 for the closing of GeoCities, and offered a number of hosting plans (for pay) to transfer data from GeoCities to these new locations.
While the natural urge by some would be to let GeoCities sink into obscurity and death, leaving nothing in its wake but bad memories and shudders of recognition at endless "under construction" GIFs, the fact remains that GeoCities was for millions of people the first experience dealing with the low-cost, full-color, world-accessible website and all the possibilities this contained. To not at least have the option of browsing these old sites would be a loss of the very history of the web from the side of the people who came to know it, not the designers who descended upon it. For that reason, Archive Team thinks GeoCities is worth saving.
The GeoCities Project and Friends
Upon the announcement of the closing of GeoCities, an attempt was made to rescue as much data from GeoCities' destruction as possible. The page with details about the project is here. The project's harvesting phase was from April-October 2009, and involved several dozen people and hundreds of machine instances. To various degrees of quality, a very large amount of GeoCities information was mirrored.
There have been other parallel projects also mirroring GeoCities besides Archive Team. These include Archive.Org, Reocities, geocities.ws, and Internet Archaeology. All groups appear to have gotten different amounts of the GeoCities collection, and most are now sharing data to track down gaps and share copies.
GeoCities closed in reality at around 12:30pm Pacific Standard Time on October 27, 2009. Attempts to reach most previous URLs either redirect to a page telling you GeoCities is closed, or bounce to a Yahoo search page and suggest you check Archive.Org's collection of saved GeoCities pages. Archive Team found some pages lingering days afterwards, likely a reflection of the size of GeoCities machinery and complexity of a decade of system administrations and hacks.
To demonstrate some of the things being lost, Jason Scott created an exhibit called This Page Is Under Construction, a collection of hundreds of "Under Construction" GIFs from the downloaded data of GeoCities. Nearly a quarter of a million people have been subjected to this display, but only a few thousand are brave enough to take on the sequel, Please Mail Me.
Press Mentions of the GeoCities Closure and the GeoCities Archive Project
Articles about GeoCities Closing
- Ars Technica: Started in 1994, GeoCities was like the Facebook to Angelfire's MySpace—competing webpage services that allowed over-enthused HTML newbies to create artfully horrific webpages to represent themselves in the early days of the Internet.
- fool.com: As anyone who has surfed through GeoCities over the years will tell you, an Internet without GeoCities is like a world of celluloid without Keanu Reeves flicks. The absence of GeoCities won't create a cultural void. Few will miss its passing. It's loaded mostly with hobbyist tribute pages, authored by penny-pinching cybersurfers who put up with primitive tools and gaudy ads in exchange for free hosting. Many of the pages were created years ago, and abandoned like bunny rabbits after Easter Sunday, Ugg boots after winter, and anything Reeves did after the first Matrix movie.
- TechCrunch: One of the pioneers of web-hosting sites, GeoCities gave users personal publishing tools and created “neighborhoods” within its web platform for users to be able to create pages, add a picture, text, a guest book and a website counter. Long before MySpace, GeoCities was known as a place where teenagers, college students, and eventually others could impose their own garish taste upon the rest of the world.
- PC World: Of the 12 remaining GeoCities users, only one was available for comment. "Holy crap!" said the user, a red-faced fellow named Strong Bad. "The scroll buttons and animated GIFs on that site were unbeatable."
- The Brandeis Hoot: Geocities: the end of an Internet era, by Alex Schneider
Articles and Mentions of Archive Team's GeoCities Project
- The Register: A group of web preservationists called the Archive Team is trying to save most of Geocities for the ages before Yahoo! erases the beloved old-school web-hosting service from the face of the internet.
- Slashdot: jamie found this note from Jason Scott, who organizes the Archive Team. They are busy downloading as much of Geocities as they can before it vanishes from the Net after Yahoo pulled the plug.
- Jason Scott appeared on the April 29, 2009 edition of Future Tense to discuss why GeoCities should be rescued.
- We Built These Cities by Brianna Snyder, Fairfield Weekly, week of October 29, 2009.
- GeoCities Decommissioning Unleashes Torrent of Nostalgia by David Adams on October 27, 2009.
I'm looking for people to help with some GeoCities heritage projects. Anyone who might be interested, please see my user page. --Jimhabegger 14:57, 1 December 2009 (UTC)