Thursday, April 23, 2009

EnD oF aN eRa: GoOdByE, gEoCiTiEs!

I joined the greater Web community in late 1997. Back then, I was mostly relegated to the America Online dial-up subculture, often to the exclusion of the CompuServe and Prodigy folk. AOL people couldn't IM non-AOL people, and launching AOL's AIM program was just a hassle. It was a bit of a stretch for our Pentium I chips with 32 MB of RAM to have the AOL program and AIM open simultaneously, lest Windows 95 crash both programs or reboot the computer.

Anyhow, if you remember, in those days, people were given what I think was server space for each screen name (email address), so that they could attempt to build their own homepage - or web page - or web site (if they were ambitious). It was a world of bAd DeSiGn, with animated GIFs and "Under Construction" notices and tiled wallpaper images that clashed the tExT. Of course, alternating capitals and small letters were cute back then, until that became annoying. While these pages also haunted the members.aol.com and Angelfire servers, the reputation for bad design fell on Geocities - at least to my knowledge.

Somewhere along the dot com boom of the turn of the millennium, Yahoo! (then at the top of the world) acquired Geocities. Well, Yahoo! is now not at the top of the world, and their Geocities division is essentially a graveyard of abandoned late 1990s websites. And so recently, Yahoo! announced that it will cease their Geocities service.

If the new MySpace CEO doesn't turn their service around, I suspect that MySpace will be the new graveyard for poorly implemented social networking design. Instead of bad HTML sites, MySpace profiles are full of CSS, buggy Flash code, and possible phishing schemes.

Then again, when there is freedom, there is good design, tolerable design (hopefully this blog is tolerable in its aesthetic), and poor design. Freedom is good.

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