Does anybody remember a little thing called Geocities?
Society now may be an interactive media-rich metropolis, where we can simultaneously post pictures from the news on Facebook, while Twittering that we're posting those pictures on Facebook, but once upon a time, before Facebook, before Twitter, the internet was a brave new world where people settled, not surfed.
Such was the foundation for Geocities, a web-hosting platform founded in 1994, where people registered in droves and staked their claim in the digital grid equivalents of neighborhoods. This was a place where you could learn about everything from your friend’s bead collection to the history of the Great Wall. All while being engulfed by glitchy neon flashing blocks of text, spinning gifs of god knows what, and clip art of puppies and other such “funky” and “fun” digi-decor. This was a space where American teens of the 90s learned to socialize in front of their computers, and, as a side note, where I got most of my information for reports in middle school.
The golden era of Geocities ended in 2009 (but you can still jog your memory of what it was like with the Geocitiesizer) when Yahoo decided to shut it down, sending 38 million user-generated pages to digital purgatory. Fortunately, last year the Internet Archive Team released a 614 GB torrent file of Geocities data in an attempt to preserve the lost digital information. Dutch designer Richard Vijgen has recently resurrected this data in a project entitled, “The Deleted City”. By cartographically mapping this data, Vijgen's project provides a dynamic and visual representation of the explosion of personal space on the Internet at the onset of the 21st century by creating a virtual city (get it?) of webspace through which anyone can navigate, offering fascinating insight into our early personal Internet landscape.
The Entire Map
It may not be the same as the days of sitting in front of my one-ton PC monitor with the curved glass screen, in my parents' den, in the dark, with fluorescent orange text and spinning clip art searing my eyeballs, but it's still pretty cool to look at.