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Geocities Forever has taught the machines to speak in '90s web design

Geocities Forever has taught the machines to speak in '90s web design


"I died - Surfing Further."

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For many people, Geocities — the free web hosting service that was launched in 1994, acquired by Yahoo in 1999, and quietly put to rest a decade later — was the first time they'd created something online. For some, it may also have been the last time they had near-total control over what a web page looked like and contained. The hand-built "Web 1.0" style that Geocities pages and other early websites sport is a relic of a time when the web felt smaller, sillier, and a little more human.

Geocities Forever, an experiment by web developer Aanand Prasad, is delightfully inhuman. It's as if a long-obsolete Java Applet suddenly gained self-awareness and began trying to communicate through the only language it had seen humankind deploy: rotted pages of nesting tables, scrolling marquees, blurry clip art, eye-searing background colors, and other material culled from the OoCities project, which frantically archived some 2 million Geocities pages just ahead of its shutdown. I'm not quite sure what it's trying to say, but it's become surprisingly fluent in haphazardly executed, half-broken '90s web design.

There's a repository of the project for the curious, and each generated page has a unique link — if anyone understands the importance of archival, it's early web fans. Or, as Geocities Forever puts it:

Geocities Forever