Did GeoCities Give Birth to Web 2.0?
Twelve years ago, what everyone felt they needed was their own home page on the Internet. That was the thing to do, even if what to do with one once they had it no one really knew. They just laid out grammatically poor content in red fonts against a green background and decorated it with spinning Christmas trees. But GeoCities gave people what they wanted – a home page in minutes with no knowledge of web design or HTML. And those people made it the third most successful website on the Internet. Of course it was primitive; this was what taught the social networking and Web 2.0 giants of today their very first lessons in social networking. Yahoo was so impressed with the impression Geocities made on people, it rushed in and bought it out for more than three billion dollars. Yahoo was on to something: Geocities was a website that ran entirely on user-generated content, and it sold advertising to display on all sides of the content. It was the first stab the world had at user-generated Internet, popularly known today as Web 2.0.
But GeoCities offered people no social networking; you could put out your own content, but if it was poorly thought-out, people stopped visiting. The thrill of GeoCities wore off over the last decade; the costs of keeping it running proved to be too irritating to Yahoo, which recently decided enough was enough. The quiet impact Geocities always had on people around the world, and the 10 million visitors it gots every month was obvious when news of its closure broke. Twitter users put out tearful obituaries for the dear, if unattractive friend they always had in GeoCities. People can’t believe that the little things that put down as truly worthwhile ten years ago – their crazy personal bios, the songs they uploaded, the links to long-lost resources, are all gone today
Should Yahoo have preserved the clutter of GeoCities just to save people’s feelings? GeoCities 23 million pages occupied only about 10 TB – nothing burdonesome for a corporation like Yahoo to maintain. Perhaps this is a sign of things to come. Ten years from now, how will you feel if you check one day, and your videos on YouTube have disappeared?