Shine on, Geocities. Shine on… Forever

Yesterday, October 26, 2009, was the day Geocities died.

Now some might call the Geocities we saw hobbling about with an IV attached to its arm not the “true” Geocities. It had, after all, been acquired by Yahoo back around 2000, and gradually lost a lot of what made Geocities so appealing in the mid to late 90s amidst both infrastructure modifications and the evolution of online trends. However, I think that deep within that mass of tubes and cybernetic implants there beat the heart of that noble site which once told anime fans that the best place to put a website was in a Pagoda in Tokyo. And even if that weren’t the case, we still have some evidence (thanks to archive.org) that it existed, and that it gave you 20mb of free space. Do you know big that is? It”s like four to six mp3s!

I’d previously talked about Geocities and how despite never having a Geocities site myself, it was an important part of my youth and my fandom. So many people I met online had Geocities sites, or Fortune City, or Angelfire. Memories of my favorite vido game, NiGHTS into dreams, are tied inexorably to my time on these sites. More broadly though, it represented that era when kids of all ages realized that yes, they could have their own website. On the internet. For free. Gradually, that thrill turned to finding out that yes, even you could implement a scrolling marquee and javascript pop-ups. The most important thing though was that it was yours.

I know some people are ashamed of their old Geocities sites, and I think that’s kind of silly. Sure, the sites might not live up to our current understanding of accessible web design, but they’re so representative of their era that to be relieved that they’re gone is to be relieved that a piece of history has been erased, both greater and personal. After all, that was who you were back in 1997, and you should be proud of that.

Adieu, Geocities

It’s the end of an era as Yahoo! has decided to completely shut down Geocities, the free site-hosting service that  was one of the go-to places during the late 90s if you didn’t know a whole lot about html or web design but really, really wanted a website. I never used it myself, being an Angelfire user, but so many of my friends both online and in real life utilized Geocities that it’s tied to my youth and my time as a fan of anime and video games.

Geocities is very significant to a number of fandoms out there, and it’s particularly a big deal when it comes to anime. It’s not because any incredible resources existed on Geocities sites (though some may have, I just can’t be bothered to check), but the sheer amount of anime sites that were on Geocities over the years. Don’t believe me? Go to the Anime Web Turnpike right now and look through the sites and see how many are Geocities pages.

Geocities has sort of become obsolete at this point, as those who want free pages can go to Myspace or Livejournal (or WordPress!) and do whatever they will with their space, while those who want their own web space can obtain it easily as getting web space and your own domain name is significantly easier now than it was 10 years ago all while being less expensive. Still, I feel we should pay our respects to Geocities, with its initial ridiculous URLs and its pop-up ads and remember how much it has done for anime fandom and online communities in general.