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Tag: facebook

The Forgotten City

by on Oct.01, 2011, under Art, Tech

Geocities, the once thriving community of web citizens was officially shut down in 2009.  A group called the Archive Team created a backup of the data and designer Richard Vijgen created a gorgeous visualization of the data file, which represents Geocities and its individual pages as a virtual city.  Interestingly, the data file was ~650GB and I can’t help but note that I could easily fit that on my harddrive today.

Delightfully, the video of the Deleted City visualization uses a Beck midi as the background music.  Somehow, the thought of the common midi background music of Geocities sites brings back far more pleasant memories for me than the blast of MP3s that was prevalent in MySpace.


As a digital city, Geocities is preserved, untouched and ageless.  It does not decay the way physical cities do, such as parts of Detroit.  It may be forgotten, but its form remains the same.

So, what was the path of decline for Geocities?  I created my first website in Geocities when I was in high school.  I started by using their WYSIWYG editors but wanted to know how everything worked so I learned HTML and CSS until I was creating pages by hand.  I learned how to manipulate images and started making more elaborate webpages.   Eventually, I was offered the chance to leave Geocities by Shae, who hosted personal sites as sub-domains.  After a few years, I bought my own domain and hosting, both of which became more affordable and came with the flexibility to create and do what I wanted on my personal domain.

Some say that what  Geocities offered, Facebook and MySpace now does.  I disagree.  I wouldn’t say that I felt any inherent connection with my fellow Geocities denizens; I barely knew of who was ‘living’ around me.  Facebook and MySpace make it far more easy to connect with people around you.  However, what they make up for in interaction, they severely lack in customizability.  While MySpace has convoluted mechanisms to enable users to change background images, colors, etc, Facebook essentially provides a single layout, with the only option of personalization being a ‘cover photo’ and profile picture.  With Geocities though, anyone can find you via a web search.  Despite Facebook’s enhanced ability to foster human connection, people can and do close down access to their pages.  Although these social networking sites have largely replaced the personal webpages of yore, they went from being cities full of artists and enthusiasts, where people can be different, look different and harp upon their interests in graphically interesting ways into a uniform colony of likes and simple image sharing, lacking in personal creativity but with designated pieces of flair where we’re allowed to express ourselves.

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