The Cities Sleep: GeoCities (1994-2009)

In the fall of 1996, when the Internet and e-mail finally came to Bradford College, there were two things I knew that I needed: an e-mail address, and a Webpage. The e-mail address, eclark@hotmail.com, I got from the then independently owned and operated Hotmail. And the Webpage, that I procured from a little place called GeoCities. My address was SunsetStrip/6908, and though I would eventually turn this address over to my band Soma and procure a second SunsetStrip address for myself (SunsetStrip/Lounge/6288), 6908 SunsetStrip is what I’ll talk about if you ever ask me about my first Webpage. I put bits of writing on there, and a picture or two. It was all black, with red lettering. And it’s the only page design I’ve ever done that I don’t have any record of, except in my memory.

On Thursday, Yahoo, Inc., owners of Geocities since 1999, announced that they would be shuttering the service later this year. It was a sad, sad day for those of us who got our start there, on a site that did first everything that MySpace and Facebook are doing now. GeoCities was the first online community I ever belonged to, and those of us who were there are all, in some small way, still linked together to this day.

Twitter was abuzz yesterday with questions of “What was GeoCities?” Ethan Zuckerman, co-founder of GeoCities competitor Tripod, offers his take. Wikipedia has a pretty good article on the subject.

What do I think? It’s sad to see it go, but I still have archives of some stuff sitting on my machine at home. I’ll also always have the memories, and, of course, the Wayback Machine.

Farewell, GeoCities. Out of ones and zeroes you were born, and back to ones and zeroes you must return. Don’t fret. MySpace will join you soon enough, and then Facebook, and then Twitter. Nothing lasts forever on the Internet, no matter how much we believe it will, or want it to.