Monday, October 26, 2009

GeoCities Closes Doors, Receives Most Attention in Years

Today we've officially reached the end of an era for the Internet: GeoCities is dead.  Yes, Yahoo finally pulled the plug on the free web hosting service.  While the news is sad, it's certainly not unexpected.  How many people out there actually visited, much less created or maintained, a GeoCities site in the past five years?

This is pretty much every GeoCites Page ever

While GeoCities ultimately became cesspool of bad layouts, broken images, blinking text and those little animated "under construction" gifs, it still deserves some respect.  GeoCities attempted to provide an outlet for the major creative outpouring that occurred at the beginning of the public Internet.  Their ambition wasn't just to create a free hosting service though, they wanted create a virtual global community.  If you have any doubts, then just look back at some of the original terminology they used.  Their users were called "homesteaders" and their sites were grouped into "neighborhoods."  Heck, their very own name embodies the idea of a single global city.

In retrospect, they were doomed to fail from day one.

I won't even begin to guess at how many GeoCities pages were made throughout its entire history, but I'm sure the number is staggering.  I will guess that if it weren't for the dot-com bubble, then the service would have imploded after its first year.  As it was the bubble burst all but killed GeoCities, and the services has been on life support ever since.

While GeoCities fell completely short of its ideal it would be a lie to say it was a complete failure.  It provided a valuable learning experience both for people producing content for the web and those who host it.  Things like blogs and Facebook would never have come into being without GeoCities (note: please hold off on the "and that's a good thing?" jokes).  I myself probably wouldn't be writing here without GeoCities (note: ditto).

So if you have the time, please observe a moment of silence for GeoCities.  You will be missed, but you probably could have left five years ago.


  1. Andrew10:31 PM

    You should see XKCD for today, the whole webpage is Geocities themed

  2. Ian (Tom's friend):

    I maintained my GeoCities site until the day they shut down! Now I don't know where to put my site. Any good free places you know of?