A Fond Farewell to Geocities

“On October 26, 2009, your GeoCities site will no longer appear on the Web, and you will no longer be able to access your GeoCities account and file,”

Well, the end of an era is now official. We were warned in April, but the final deadline for Geocities is no looming in the near future. As of Monday, Geocities will be offline: All the content will be deleted and access disable unless you (quickly) sign up for a paid Yahoo hosting account.

The First User-Driven Webs

Early in the internet’s history, a few service providers produced and hosted the majority of the content.  Dialing up through a local BBS’s ISP would connect you to the web, but you’d be missing out on a lot of the richness provided by portals like Prodigy and AOL.  Some newspapers were building their first-draft websites, but there was nothing resembling a social network and very few places where users could contribute or influence the content.

Geocities was among the first sites to turn anyone with a connection into a potential content publisher.  With some free space and an intuitive site-builder, the first wave of the social web hit hard with animated .gifs and under construction icons.  Early on it was an unruly land, and one might find all kinds of inappropriate or appropriated content. Yes, this is where people shared their MP3s and software and favorite links, long before Myspace, Facebook, or Digg.

In fact, many of the 2.0 properties were designed to facilitate the most common uses of the primitive publishing platform.  Once thousands of people had at the chance for free publication, developers could reverse engineer user intent and create slicker services with more refined features.

Yahoo Hosting?

So if you’ve got an old free Geocities site, is it worth upgrading to Yahoo’s paid hosting service?  In short, I’d advise against it.

A friend of mine signed up with Yahoo hosting last year.  He didn’t have any web building experience, so the site builder was useful for him.  Aside from that though, the experience had been a bit of a nightmare.  One problem was the fee creep:  despite charging a relatively high amount for relatively low resources, they hiked fees on domain renewal and monthly rates.

I’ve been personally using Bluehost and Dreamhost for my websites since 2007.  Things haven’t been perfect with either, but I’ve always felt like I’m getting my money’s worth.  For Christmas, I plan to buy myself a gift of a third account with Hostgator.  Now, you and the FTC may be suspicious of my opinion because I’ve signed up for the host’s affiliate programs, but if I wanted to I could sign up for Yahoo’s affiliate campaign and get paid for promoting them.  But why would I recommend a sub-par service?  Sure I want you to buy the hosting I recommend, but I want you to come back here afterward or recommend my hosting reviews to your own friends and readers.  Chew on that one FTC.

Goodbye Geocities

24 hours from now, my second website ever will go black.  Its hard to not get sentimental, even if it was a 10 year old project that never got much further than a single URL.  Getting old isn’t fun, but the good news is that the technology just keeps getting better.

So let’s have a toast and/or a smoke:  One for the last fifteen years of internet innovation, and a second for the next wave to come.

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