GeoCities, R.I.P.

Today was the day GeoCities was killed off, finally, by Yahoo. Some would call it a mercy killing; Yahoo closed it to new registrations some time ago, and a lot of what was on there looked like it was permanently stuck in 1998. Of course, in 1998, GeoCities seemed pretty impressive to a lot of people who were able for the first time to put up a web page of their very own. It's easy to forget that there was a time before GoDaddy, when domains cost a lot more than $7.99 a year, and Blogger and WordPress were still in the future. I was one of those who had a GeoCities page, around 1996 or so. Back then, GeoCities was organized around "neighborhoods" named after cities (hence the name) and each page was assigned a sort of street number. For example, mine was something like (the exact number eludes me). Editing the page was done in a text box, much like the one in Gmail in which I am writing this post, and because I was doing it not from a computer but from a WebTV box, I taught myself HTML and hand-coded all of it.

Eventually I moved on, first to GeoCities' competitor Angelfire, and much later to actual blogging platforms. My Angelfire site was shut down years ago, but is still visible here (at least the first page) thanks to the Internet Archive. Looking back, it's astonishing to think of how much work was involved in just trying to put together a simple web page back then. Whereas on GeoCities and Angelfire I was using stock images and laboriously hand-coding the HTML, today I'm taking photos on my cell phone and emailing them to Posterous, which knows what to do with them and makes everything look nice and neat. Amazing how ten years of technology can improve things.

And, of course, ten years from now Posterous and WordPress will look just as antiquated. Ah, progress…