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In November 1994 a little entity known as Beverly Hills Internet was formed out of 9401
Wilshire Boulevard.
It began as a web hosting and development company, but quickly set up it's own web directory,
and by December 15th 1995 had become GeoCities, allowing users to develop free homepages within
online neighbourhoods.
Thankfully, since then, websites have advanced.
So thank you to this video's sponsor, SquareSpace.
More on that later.
But, this wasn't as bad as it sounds.
Here, was a playground for the early internet.
A place where people could logon, play with the technology and carve out a piece of it
for their own.
It was beautiful in it's own way.
In this original incarnation, a series of cities were setup.
These would act as a rough index for the directory, with each city containing sites relevant to
its name.
For example Area51 would be home to Science fiction, conspiracy theories or other other
worldly goings on.
Hollywood would house sites about films, entertainment or actors.
SiliconValley was dedicated to computers and technology.
Tokyo was where you'd find Anime.
If the named city was stereotyped in some way, that's what you'd find within.
These cities, or neighbourhoods as they quickly became known, expanded over time.
But as a user, all you had to do was navigate to your chosen neighbourhood, select a district,
initially Commercial or Residential, find a spare address and then pitch your tent.
You could then name your site whatever you wanted, and put on it, well, whatever you
wanted.
It was the freedom to create which really drew people in.
The ability to make your mark in this entire online world.
If you wanted to create a decent site, you had to know how to use HTML, although basic
WYSIWYG tools evolved as the service went on.
What this led to, was a lot of people learning how to create basic websites.
A handy skill, especially back then.
By 1999, GeoCities was the third most visited web site behind Yahoo! and AOL.
A completely different world to the Google and social media dominated landscape of today.
But then, as well as being an internet directory, Geocities was really, could easily be classed
as one of the first social networks.
It was an environment which allowed communities to prosper, communicate, and express themselves,
in a manner which still stands today.
And that's thanks to various attempts to preserve these sites.
Yahoo would acquire GeoCities in 1999, and indeed, keep it running until October 2009,
but before it went, services like The Internet Archive, Archive Team and various others made
attempts to archive the some 38 million websites hosted on the service.
A recent attempt.
In fact, from earlier this year, is The Geocities Gallery, which aims to list the archived sites
in a manner, which gives easy navigation, whilst retaining as much of their functionality
as possible... and this includes the various MIDI files which would play when loading up
a site.
Seriously, you can't get away from this.
Anyway, I thought it would be nice to take a browse through some of these sites, and
bathe in the beauty that was GeoCities.
Let's start in, well, let's start in Area51.
Always one one of the more interesting neighbourhoods...
Alright, so there's a lot of sites to pick from.
Many of the unfinished.
Many of them utterly pointless.
So I'm just going to present the ones I find most interesting...
Content wise, not much has changed on the internet today.
There's always a bizarre conspiracy making headway among folk who aren't quite willing
to complete all the logical steps.
Now don't get me wrong, I love a good conspiracy as much as the next person, but the ones which
seem to gain the most traction, aren't necessarily the ones which need perusing the most.
But, if you're looking for an excellent story or two.
The sites in Area51 are filled with it.
Here's an interesting one, Quazar Cosmos, as well as being a fan of Star Trek and Babylon
5, this chap has created a list of Future Predictions;
It starts off a bit grim, and there's a nuclear winter in 2013, but by 2015, the Armstrong
Colony should be firmly established on the moon.
Cryogenics are perfected in 2019, and in 2020, Al Gore is elected president of the U.S.
Well, my friend, I'm not sure whether you're currently disappointed or in a state of contentment
about the ACTUAL world outcome, but at least we haven't had World War 3...
Yet.
*sponsor segment I'll tell you what we do have though... an
easier way to create websites, that look just a little bit better....
SquareSpace allows you to create websites, with, or without 90s GIFs - usually without
- and it allows you to do it quickly whilst looking professional.
None of this then...
[Bizarre MID musics]
Rather than plonking your site in a community category, you can unleash it directly onto
the web, with just a few clicks.
Head on over to SquareSpace.com/NostalgiaNerd for a free trial, and 10% off your first purchase
of a website or domain.
Also, check out the site I made, whilst you're there...
Alright, back to the 90s!
*sponsor segment end*
Alongside sites dedicated to Jennifer Lopez and Lingere.
We've also got completely wholesome content, like this site, dedicated to trading Star
Trek Customisable Game Cards.
And I just find the amateur style on these pages so endearing.
A quick look at the source code shows that this page was created using the Yahoo!
PageBuilder, but it's just so crudely done.
All these   is an HTML character entity, that forces a space, so most of the spacing
on the page is just done by stringing loads of spaces together.
Delightfully crude.
This was the Wild West of the internet.
But, the thing about GeoCities, was the neighbourhood rules were about as loose as you could get.
Many of these sites really shouldn't be in the Area51 grouping, but as long as there
was an address spare, you could create whatever you liked in here.
So I'm just going to select sites at random from any neighbourhood and see what we end
up with....
Here's a good one, Jeff's Doom and Quake page, because if there's one thing the 90s were
about, it's Doom and Quake.
Another thing pertinent to the 90s, was desktop themes, and here Jeff has kindly provided
a variety of ones to download for our pleasure.
Turns out he was also a fan of MechWarrior, so there's a site dedicated to that as well.
Good to see appropriate GIFs on show.
How about Dave's Tunnel Ride?
Quite a nice GIF, would have looked pretty decent on a 640x480 screen in the 90s.
Unfortunately it breaks after that, and this is where you need to use the full resources
of the internet.
By stripping out the GeoCities part of this link, we can then search for that in the Internet
Archive, adding GeoCities.com onto the start, of course, and then find out what Dave's homepage
actually was.
And here we are, another Star Trek and Homer Simpson fan.
Like most GeoCities creators.
His entire CV is on here if you want to read it.
But, it just shows you how personal, so many of these sites were.
They were by and large a social platform.
Where people want to be heard.
But not in the same way of a lot of Youtube commenters.
HALLO, I JUST WANTED TO SAY, YOU DIDN'T PRONOUNCE GEOCITIES CORRECTLY.
IT'S ACTUALLY GEOCITIES.
WANKER.
It's in a much more wholesome way.
God I miss the early internet.
Now here's a site that was updated in the final years of GeoCities.
Here's James, he's a PhD student at the University of Minnesota, and what we have here is multiple
choice adventure, that helps him find a wife.
The correct route is to go to the ISNA convention, then check out the lobby, go back home, and
then apparently you find a fiance.
As games go, it's pretty crap.
Probably the worst game I've played, and I'm including N64 Superman in that.
But at least James found a wife.
In fact, I'm going to email him to ask him if he's still married, oh, and tell him he's
lucky, like the site tells me to do.
Excellent.
If I hear back, I'll post an update on my Twitter.
So that'll give you something to look forward to.
Here's another one which was updated in 2008.
Matt Draper's Home Page.
Now, what I like about Matt, is he has absolutely no idea what this home page is for.
He's got a random list here.
An apologetic statement there, but he hasn't got a clue.
9 Years this site has been in development apparently.
NINE YEARS.
But you know what he does know, he knows hebloody knows he loves pizza.
He's got a picture of a pizza and that's all that matters.
Good stuff Matt.
Here's Chris's homepage.
Delightful music Chris.
Now Chris has a love of many things.
Calgary, Inline Skating, Fly Fishing, but I'm interested in Computers.
I've been playing around with computers and programming for over twelve years now.
I got hooked back in the days of the TI 99-4/A. I'm currently using a Pentium 90 running Windows
95 networked to a 486DX2-66 running Windows for Workgroups 3.11.
Oh Chris.
This is what I'm talking about.
Just a chunk of personal computing history, recorded for all to see, some twenty years
on.
One thing people in the Silicon Valley neighbourhood seem to like doing, other than putting visitor
counters on their sites, is listing software and computing related resources.
But this was important back then.
Search engines were pretty useless.
So having a selection of links to noteworthy sites was highly beneficial, and often bookmarked.
Look, here's some more lists on a different site.
But I bloody love this site.
Really embracing what a nice GeoCities website could look like.
You can definitely see a bitterness in some of the moods here as the internet began to
progress to what is is now.
LUIX shares his pages in "total harmony with the philosophy of the Internet in the 90s"..
Here was a site from only 2002, already feeling resentment to the Internet Marketing, aggressive
JAVAS, dancing images and banners which were invading his life.
Luix was more than happy with a 33.6K dial up modem, a few 16 colour images, and text
links.
That's what he liked, nothing more.
And that's really what GEOCities is filled it.
The limited knowledge of most of its users, means that, even into the noughties, sites
were made in the crudest and simplest of fashions, and I'm just grateful that it's possible to
still go and browse them.
You can even download the entire archive torrent if you're feeling brave.
I could spend all day here going from site to site, but instead, I'm going to do a few
streams, on a perhaps, well known streaming site, which I won't mention the name of, and
I'm going to drop a load of links in the description so you can have a browse of GeoCities yourself.
Because, really, there's nothing quite like it.
It's really like being in the past for a small moment of time.
And after all, isn't that why you're here?
I'll catch you again soon, but in the mantime, thanks for watching, and have a great evening.