In some of the spaces I frequent regarding Neocities, there seems to be a bit of a elephant in the room that grows more and more apparent with time. That being, the influx of users from social media sites such as Twitter or Tiktok, and the toxic mindset they seem to carry over.
The question being, is this another case of "Those damn kids on my lawn" from out of touch old geezers who need to "get with the times"? Elitism? Gatekeeping? Or do these new-age Webmasters only seem to care about digital vanity, and internet brownie points?
This argument is something I've thought about probably more then I should
(But then again its better then whatever stuff my anxiety thinks of at 1 AM..) I like to think of myself as someone "in the middle" to most arguments or debates. As such, I hope this entry can give perspective into both sides.
The main question I want to ask is, are we viewing the past with rose tinted glasses? I myself do this quite often. I have fond memories of playing flash games on the computer whilst living in my grandmas basement for a brief while. Or playing Minecraft while my family was having personal issues.
I personally don't believe this is the case. To understand why people wish to return to "the old ways" is first we must examine the modern web and social media sites. But to do that, we must also the history of the internet in general.
The first times we began to see the "internet" (More accurately: A very grandpa and bare bone version of what we know of today) was around the 1960s.
"The origins of the Internet date back to the development of packet switching and research commissioned by the United States Department of Defense in the 1960s to enable time-sharing of computers. The primary precursor network, the ARPANET, initially served as a backbone for interconnection of regional academic and military networks in the 1970s. The funding of the National Science Foundation Network as a new backbone in the 1980s, as well as private funding for other commercial extensions, led to worldwide participation in the development of new networking technologies, and the merger of many networks. The linking of commercial networks and enterprises by the early 1990s marked the beginning of the transition to the modern Internet, and generated a sustained exponential growth as generations of institutional, personal, and mobile computers were connected to the network. Although the Internet was widely used by academia in the 1980s, commercialization incorporated its services and technologies into virtually every aspect of modern life." -The Wikipedia Page for Internet
"Steady advances in semiconductor technology and optical networking created new economic opportunities for commercial involvement in the expansion of the network in its core and for delivering services to the public. In mid-1989, MCI Mail and Compuserve established connections to the Internet, delivering email and public access products to the half million users of the Internet. Just months later, on 1 January 1990, PSInet launched an alternate Internet backbone for commercial use; one of the networks that added to the core of the commercial Internet of later years. In March 1990, the first high-speed T1 (1.5 Mbit/s) link between the NSFNET and Europe was installed between Cornell University and CERN, allowing much more robust communications than were capable with satellites. Six months later Tim Berners-Lee would begin writing WorldWideWeb, the first web browser, after two years of lobbying CERN management. By Christmas 1990, Berners-Lee had built all the tools necessary for a working Web: the HyperText Transfer Protocol (HTTP) 0.9, the HyperText Markup Language (HTML), the first Web browser (which was also a HTML editor and could access Usenet newsgroups and FTP files), the first HTTP server software (later known as CERN httpd), the first web server, and the first Web pages that described the project itself. In 1991 the Commercial Internet eXchange was founded, allowing PSInet to communicate with the other commercial networks CERFnet and Alternet. Stanford Federal Credit Union was the first financial institution to offer online Internet banking services to all of its members in October 1994. In 1996, OP Financial Group, also a cooperative bank, became the second online bank in the world and the first in Europe. By 1995, the Internet was fully commercialized in the U.S. when the NSFNet was decommissioned, removing the last restrictions on use of the Internet to carry commercial traffic." -The Wikipedia Page for Internet
So.. yea! The internet was originally for governments to communicate quickly and storing of information. However as technology progressed, with computers no longer restricted to the government. It became accessible to the average Joe. ...Somewhat.
Have you ever heard of this noise? Well, its not just silly beeping noises that computers made for no apparent reason. And no, its not just something your parents talk about to be a old geezer for old geezers sake. Its a dial up!
"Dial-up Internet access is a form of Internet access that uses the facilities of the public switched telephone network (PSTN) to establish a connection to an Internet service provider (ISP) by dialing a telephone number on a conventional telephone line. Dial-up connections use modems to decode audio signals into data to send to a router or computer, and to encode signals from the latter two devices to send to another modem." -The Wikipedia Page for Dial-Up Internet Access
My own mother (In case you're wondering where I got all this nerdiness from) reminiscents to me about how terrible it was and how she'd have to frequently deal with getting kicked off due to someone using the telephone.. Simply put, the people using the internet then were nerds with a purpose. And because of that, you often hear people describe the old web as a "wild west". Since it was so new and no one really knew what it was capable of, advertisers didn't bother sinking all their money into this dork shit. And governments have only recently within the past decade started to take it more seriously with laws and regulations.
...So what was there to do on the web? So much free space of ideas and possibilites.. You'd have to take some time into learning HTML, of course! Cat pictures don't just pop out of nowhere.
Now we're gonna be going down a bit of a rabbit hole for a second here, but to put simply: "What is HTML?" > "What is a web browser?" > "The first web browser?" > "What really is the world wide web?". So lets start with, what the hell is "the world wide web" anyway? Why does it even exist? Who came up with this shit!?
"While working at CERN, Tim Berners-Lee became frustrated with the inefficiencies and difficulties posed by finding information stored on different computers. On 12 March 1989, he submitted a memorandum, titled "Information Management: A Proposal", to the management at CERN. The proposal used the term "web" and was based on "a large hypertext database with typed links". It described a system called "Mesh" that referenced ENQUIRE, the database and software project he had built in 1980, with a more elaborate information management system based on links embedded as text: "Imagine, then, the references in this document all being associated with the network address of the thing to which they referred, so that while reading this document, you could skip to them with a click of the mouse." Such a system, he explained, could be referred to using one of the existing meanings of the word hypertext, a term that he says was coined in the 1950s. Berners-Lee notes the possibility of multimedia documents that include graphics, speech and video, which he terms hypermedia. Although the proposal attracted little interest, Berners-Lee was encouraged by his manager, Mike Sendall, to begin implementing his system on a newly acquired NeXT workstation. He considered several names, including Information Mesh, The Information Mine or Mine of Information, but settled on World Wide Web. Berners-Lee found an enthusiastic supporter in his colleague and fellow hypertext enthusiast Robert Cailliau. Berners-Lee and Cailliau pitched Berners-Lee's ideas to the European Conference on Hypertext Technology in September 1990, but found no vendors who could appreciate his vision. Berners-Lee's breakthrough was to marry hypertext to the Internet. In his book Weaving The Web, he explains that he had repeatedly suggested to members of both technical communities that a marriage between the two technologies was possible. But, when no one took up his invitation, he finally assumed the project himself. In the process, he developed three essential technologies:
-A system of globally unique identifiers for resources on the Web and elsewhere, the universal document identifier (UDI), later known as uniform resource locator (URL)
-The publishing language Hypertext Markup Language (HTML)
-And the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP)
With help from Cailliau, he published a more formal proposal on 12 November 1990 to build a "hypertext project" called World Wide Web (abbreviated "W3") as a "web" of "hypertext documents" to be viewed by "browsers" using a client–server architecture. The proposal was modelled after the Standard Generalized Markup Language (SGML) reader Dynatext by Electronic Book Technology, a spin-off from the Institute for Research in Information and Scholarship at Brown University. The Dynatext system, licensed by CERN, was considered too expensive and had an inappropriate licensing policy for use in the general high energy physics community, namely a fee for each document and each document alteration. At this point HTML and HTTP had already been in development for about two months and the first web server was about a month from completing its first successful test. Berners-Lee's proposal estimated that a read-only Web would be developed within three months and that it would take six months to achieve "the creation of new links and new material by readers, [so that] authorship becomes universal" as well as "the automatic notification of a reader when new material of interest to him/her has become available". By December 1990, Berners-Lee and his work team had built all the tools necessary for a working Web: the HyperText Transfer Protocol (HTTP), the HyperText Markup Language (HTML), the first web browser (named WorldWideWeb, which was also a web editor), the first web server (later known as CERN httpd) and the first web site (http://info.cern.ch) containing the first web pages that described the project itself was published on 20 December 1990. The browser could access Usenet newsgroups and FTP files as well. A NeXT Computer was used by Berners-Lee as the web server and also to write the web browser. Working with Berners-Lee at CERN, Nicola Pellow wrote a simple text browser that could run on almost any computer, the Line Mode Browser, which worked with a command-line interface."
"The creation of new links and new material by readers, [so that] authorship becomes universal".
"So that authorship becomes universal"...
"The World Wide Web enabled the spread of information over the Internet through an easy-to-use and flexible format. It thus played an important role in popularising use of the Internet. Although the two terms are sometimes conflated in popular use, World Wide Web is not synonymous with Internet. The Web is an information space containing hyperlinked documents and other resources, identified by their URIs. It is implemented as both client and server software using Internet protocols such as TCP/IP and HTTP. In keeping with its origins at CERN, early adopters of the Web were primarily university-based scientific departments or physics laboratories such as SLAC and Fermilab. By January 1993 there were fifty web servers across the world. By October 1993 there were over five hundred servers online, including some notable websites."
Communication. Even if our physical bodies are apart, our minds can still reach each other. Poetic, Isn't it?
"On 30 April 1993, the CERN directorate released the source code of WorldWideWeb into the public domain. Several versions of the software are still available on the web in various states. Berners-Lee initially considered releasing it under the GNU General Public License, but after hearing rumors that companies might balk at the concept if any licensing issues were involved, he eventually opted to release it into the public domain" -The Wikipedia Page for WorldWideWeb
Well, I guess we killed two birds in one stone. Thats that on "What was the first web browser?" and "Who thought of this anyway?".
I'm sure you're thinking "This is very nice and all, but its getting a bit boring.." Worry not, dear reader! I know what you're here for.
"GeoCities began during mid-1995 as BHI, which stood for Beverly Hills Internet, a small Web hosting and development company in Southern California. The company created its own Web directory, organized thematically as six so-called "neighborhoods". The neighborhoods included "Colosseum", "Hollywood", "RodeoDrive", "SunsetStrip", "WallStreet", and "WestHollywood". In mid-1995, the company decided to offer users (thereafter known as "Homesteaders") the ability to develop free home pages within those neighborhoods, with 2 MB of space provided at the time. During the registration process, new members chose to which neighborhood they wanted to belong. This neighborhood became part of the member's Web address along with a sequentially assigned "street address" number to make the URL unique (for example, "www.geocities.com/RodeoDrive/number"). Chat, bulletin boards, and other elements of "community" were added soon afterward, helping foster rapid growth. On July 5, 1995, GeoCities added additional cities, including "CapitolHill", "Paris", "SiliconValley", and "Tokyo". By December 1995, the company, which now had a total of 14 neighborhoods, was registering thousands of Homesteaders a day and getting more than six million monthly page views. GeoCities never enforced neighborhood-specific content; for example, a "Hollywood" homesteader could be nothing but a college student's home page. The company decided to emphasize increasing membership and community, and on December 15, 1995, BHI became known as GeoCities after having also been named Geopages. At that time GeoCities was headquartered at 9401 Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills. By December 1996, it was headquartered on the third floor of 1918 Main Street in nearby Santa Monica, with an office on the 8th floor of 125 Park Avenue in New York City." -The Wikipedia Page for Geocities
So.. people actually really were into this nerd shit!
..But why? With these things becoming more and more accessible, people found their own little corner of the world wide web to express themselves. A peer to peer, almost personal connection with one another. Only truly limited by shitty dial up connection. But even more importantly, not limited by means of physical. You could truly talk to someone from anywhere, I think we really underestimate how crazy that is!
"During January 1999, near the maximum of the dot-com bubble, GeoCities was purchased by Yahoo! for $3.57 billion in stock, with Yahoo! taking control on May 28. The acquisition proved unpopular; users began to quit en masse in protest at the new terms of service specified by Yahoo! for GeoCities. The terms stated that the company owned all rights and content, including media such as pictures. Yahoo! quickly reversed its decision. During July 1999, Yahoo! switched from neighborhood and street addresses Uniform Resource Locators (URLs) for homesteaders to "vanity" URLs through members' registration names to Yahoo! ("www.geocities.com/membername"). This service was offered previously only as a premium. During 2001, amid speculation by analysts that GeoCities was not yet profitable (it having declared an $8 million loss for the final quarter of 1998), Yahoo! introduced a for-fee premium hosting service at GeoCities and reduced the accessibility of free and low-price hosting accounts by limiting their data transfer rate for Web page visitors; since that time the data transfer limit for free accounts was said to be limited to 3 GB per month, but was enforced as a limit of about 4.2 MB per hour. The paid accounts were later unified in the Yahoo! Web Hosting service, with higher data transfer limits. During 2001, a rumor began that GeoCities was to be terminated; the chain e-mail making that claim cited a The New York Times article that stated the opposite." -The Wikipedia Page for Geocities
"On April 23, 2009, Yahoo! announced that it would be terminating its United States version of GeoCities, and stopped accepting new registrations, though the existing GeoCities accounts remained active. During late June 2009, Yahoo! updated the GeoCities home page to indicate: "GeoCities is closing on October 26, 2009." GeoCities joined a long list of other services discontinued by Yahoo. With the termination of GeoCities in the U.S., Yahoo! no longer offered free web page hosting, except in Japan, where the service continued for ten more years" -The Wikipedia Page for Geocities
"Rupert Goodwins, the editor of ZDNet, perceived the termination of GeoCities as an end of an era; he described GeoCities as "the first proof that you could have something really popular and still not make any money on the internet." Vijay Mukhi, an internet and cybersecurity expert quoted in the Business Standard, criticized Yahoo's management of GeoCities; Mukhi described GeoCities as "a lost opportunity for Yahoo!", adding that "they could have made it a Facebook if they wanted." Rich Skrenta, the CEO of Blekko, posted on Twitter an offer to take over GeoCities from Yahoo! in exchange for 50% future revenue share. In response to the termination, rival Web hosting services began to compete for the websites formerly displayed by GeoCities. For instance, German Web host Jimdo started the "Lifeboat for GeoCities" service to encourage GeoCities users to display their Web sites on Jimdo. Geocities-closing.com, started by GeoCities competitor uCoz, is a similar project begun to save GeoCities websites." -The Wikipedia Page for Geocities
"During 1999, a complaint was instituted against GeoCities stating that the corporation violated the provisions of the Federal Trade Commission Act, specifically 15 U.S.C. § 45, which states in relevant part, "Unfair methods of competition in or affecting commerce, and unfair or deceptive acts or practices in or affecting commerce, are hereby declared unlawful." The FTC found that GeoCities was engaged in deceptive acts and practices in contravention to their stated privacy act. Subsequently, a consent order was entered into which prohibits GeoCities from misrepresenting the purpose for which it collects and/or uses personal identifying information from consumers. A copy of the complaint and order can be found at 127 F.T.C. 94 (page 94). GeoCities provided free home pages and e-mail address to children and adults who provided personally identifying and demographic information when they registered for the website. At the time of the complaint, GeoCities had more than 1.8 million members who were "homesteaders". GeoCities illegally permitted third-party advertisers to promote products targeted to GeoCities' 1.8 million users, by using personally identifiable information obtained in the registration process. These acts and practices affected "commerce" as defined in Section 4 of the Federal Trade Commission. The problem of GeoCities was that it placed a privacy statement on its New Member Application Form and on its website promising that it would never give personally identifying information to anyone without the user's permission. GeoCities sold personal information to third parties who used the information for purposes other than those for which members gave permission. It was ordered that GeoCities would not make any misrepresentation, in any manner about its collection or use of personal identifying information, including what information will be disclosed to third parties. GeoCities was not allowed to collect personal identifying information from any child if GeoCities had actual knowledge that the child did not have their parents' permission to provide the information." -The Wikipedia Page for Geocities
..Ah.. something we see all the time in modern day. Greed. Selling, buying, disregard for the people, because its easier to sell stuff to people if they're all the same face, Isn't it?
Even if it happens all the time now, it never fails to disappoint us..
"The first proof that you could have something really popular and still not make any money on the internet."
Although there were many other web hosters you could flee to (Such as Angelfire) it seems that Geocities was truly the place to be.
Theres a quote I heard in passing recently that I feel truly sticks with me,
"People have been complaining about advertising so long, it's come to seem like a basic feature of the human condition. But it's not a basic feature of the human condition. It's a situation particular to life under capitalism."