Like a pixelated phoenix rising from the ashes of discarded floppy discs, ancient blogging platform GeoCities is back.
“The purpose of this project is not to inspire nostalgia,” Drake wrote on his blog. “It’s to rebuild the platform for us to be able to be creative again. To have sites that we can do whatever we want with. This is not nostalgia speaking. We really did lose our platforms for creativity and rich self expression online, and I want to help bring them back.”
GeoCities was started in 1994. It was a place for early Internet adopters to experiment with webdesign and interact with others through neighborhoods, which were groups focused around topics like science fiction, music, and food. The site was purchased by Yahoo in 1999 for a staggering $3.5 billion in stock. During the 2000s, GeoCities averaged more than 10 million unique visitors a month. In 2009, Yahoo shuttered GeoCities, erasing the existence of 39 million user-created pages.
Since then, GeoCities has been a topic of research and artistic inspiration. Legendary GIF artist Olia Lialina and 8-bit musician Dragan Espenschied have been working over the past three years to preserve and analyze as many GeoCities pages they can from a massive 652GB file of its history.
“What makes Geocities especially interesting is that it was not a database driven site,” Espenschied told the Daily Dot. “All the narration was in the hands of its users. While one can argue that the database/template driven web has brought many good things for users, for sure it has taken away their power to actually narrate with their own data.”
NeoCities has already collected more than 1,600 sites, touching on everything from My Little Pony to Scientology. Registering a NeoCities domain is very similar to registering a blog on Tumblr. All you need is an email address and you can have your very own .neocities.org domain. But that’s where the similarity ends, considering Tumblr, which was just bought by Yahoo for $1.1 billion, hosts more than 119 million blogs and counting. Yet these numbers don’t phrase Drake. He believes NeoCities is more than just a hosting platform. It’s a tool for people to relearn how to build Websites from scratch, “an art that should be available for all of us, not just design professionals,” Drake said in an interview with the Daily Dot.
“The principal difference is that NeoCities allows you complete control over the user experience,” he added. “If you can do it with HTML, you can do it with NeoCities. Tumblr does have a structure that can be limiting for many people, and is content-aggregation-focused, whereas NeoCities is content-creation-focused. Also WordPress, though awesome for a lot of cases, can be constraining depending on what you are doing.”
Photo by ragnarokr/Flickr | Remix by Fernando Alfonso III