Monday, October 26, 2009

Yahoo is not a ‘trustable entity’; puts a bullet in Web-site hosting service GeoCities

Yahoo took its free Web-site hosting service, GeoCities, to a remote location, had it dig a grave and then put a bullet in the back of its head.
Yahoo snuffed out GeoCities today and with it thousands of personal Web pages, many dating back to the early days of the World Wide Web.
I had three GeoCities accounts in which I created Web pages to post photos of vacations and family events. Over the weekend I downloaded 52 GeoCities Web pages that I’d built between December 1998 and December 2004. If I hadn’t downloaded the pages to my PC, they’d be gone forever after today.
Over the years, I didn’t visit those Web sites very much. But I liked the idea that they were there if I wanted to take a trip down memory lane.
I moved on to Yahoo’s Flickr for photo hosting and Google’s Blogger for Web logs.
GeoCities had become outmoded. Yahoo didn’t invest in the service after purchasing it in 1999.
A decade ago, I thought I’d be safe with Yahoo. It was one of the giants of the Internet and looked like it had staying power. For the same reason, I chose Yahoo for e-mail and My Yahoo as my browser home page.
In January, the Archive Team declared that Yahoo “is no longer a trustable entity” with your data because of its record of shutting down services. (See article.) Among the consumer services Yahoo has killed are social networking service Yahoo 360, video hosting and editing site, Yahoo Photos, Yahoo Pets, Yahoo Briefcase, etc.
A lot of the articles about GeoCities shutting down today have been about how ugly and tacky many of the Web sites on the service were. Bloggers and columnists have been joking about those GeoCities sites with annoying animations and “under construction” images.
As embarrassing as it may seem now, GeoCities is part of the history of the Web and our culture. Some efforts were made to preserve GeoCities pages for historical purposes, most notably by the Internet Archive, but undoubtedly a lot of data will be lost forever.

For further information about the end of GeoCities, check out:
“GeoCities’ time has expired, Yahoo closing the site today,” Los Angeles Times, Oct. 26, 2009;
“Yahoo GeoCities closes on Oct. 26,” Computerworld blogs, Oct. 23, 2009;
“Deals from Hell: Yahoo Buries GeoCities,” Wall Street Journal blogs, Oct. 26, 2009;
“How to Blow $3.5 Billion,” Valleywag, Oct. 26, 2009;

See also, the Tech-Media-Tainment series “The Failed Promise of Digital Content.”

Photo: GeoCities page chronicling my May 1999 trip to China

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