Monday, January 11, 2010

Whenever Geocities is mentioned (and let me say that it is rarely mentioned), an odd feeling of comfort and http metatags drifts over me. I am ushered into an era where Sunset Strip is a virtual place and other noobish web designers are vying for a space to call their own. I feel such affection for animated gifs, proclaiming a site is "under construction" (and honestly, was a site ever really finished?), #name tags and guestbooks. It was tacky and amateurish but above all, it was personal.

Long before social networking sites, users constructed personal webpages on Microsoft Frontpage, Netscape Composer and Hotdog. I do stress that word, personal. Not in that they divulged inappropriately private information (or maybe they did, sometimes, you could never really know on a site as vast as Geocities), but the web designer took care of both the content and appearance of the site. Often this would lead to jarring background images that interfered with the text or else bodged up html or midis that would unexpectedly play every time a page opened. It was awkward, silly and naive, but that was us, online in 1998.

It's probably no secret now that I had my own Queen webpage on Geocities. It's all gone now, wiped out by the site's closure in October 2009. It was expansive, yet so very odd. There were bios, lyrics, midis in addition to lyric analyses and Choose Your Own Adventure games. I was thirteen when I started it and throughout my adolescence I added to it. It was as you would expect it to be, personal and excitable with that dab of gleeful eccentricity that seemed all too acceptable in that online realm.

You stole my heart and made me go crazy for a little while there...

I reveled in how personal it was. There seemed to be so much more value in personal expression on Geocities. I would openly speak about how my passion for Queen affected the way I engaged with the girls at school, in addition to how it affected the way I saw myself. My story encouraged others to write and share their stories about how Queen affected them. It was a great thing to receive emails of encouragement or else stunningly enthusiastic comments on my guestbook. I don't think such interactivity really exists anymore.

With Blogger, everything has become streamlined. The template is uniform, the writing style is uniform. MP3 blogs, free of personal commentary are among the most popular blogs on the web. Some days, I feel as if there is no value in recounting personal experience on Blogger, because it's simply not appropriate anymore. When I think of the desires of my end user, I believe that they want something analytical and detached. And downloads. Above all, people want downloads.

So whenever Geocities is mentioned (and I'm usually the one to mention it), I remember another time, an arguably better time. The sites didn't look perfect, I will be the first to acknowledge that, but there was something distinctly beautiful about that form of personal expression. We weren't pandering to the end user, there was no other agenda than to express who we were and what we loved.. and I very much doubt we could ever return to a style of online journalism that is so open in its form or content.

Cassettes & Chocolate Milk: Electro Podcast #18
Shakira - She Wolf
Frankmusik - When You're Around
The Klaxons - No Diggity
The Radio Dept - Freddie & The Trojan Horse
Yeasayer - Tightrope
Lady Gaga - Alejandro
Ace of Base - Hypnotized (Hear Me Calling Demo)
Theoretical Girl - It's a Sin

Download (43.9 MB)


Erin said...

ahhh brings back the memory of playing those choose your own adventure games at the same time and realising we'd made all of the same choices! SAME PERSON! :D

Eleanor said...

What is that thing they always say, Kally? Fairytales of yesterday grow old, but never die. I doubt we'll ever shake it. It was just far far too important xxx

smudgeon said...

I still have some Geocities addresses floating around in my head - unwieldly, convoluted & bizarre addresses to unwieldly, convoluted & bizarre websites.

I didn't have a Geocities site myself, but I do remember adding my Angelfire address to my handle in Beseen chatrooms, just hoping someone would say "hey, I'm going to leave a really encouraging comment in that dude's guestbook even though that dancing hamster background is making my eyes water".

I miss 1998 some times.

Anonymous said...

"she's not broken, she's just a baby"

really enjoyed the podcast miss gray. currently pouring over the rest of the blog. your musings have made my otherwise carless and stranded Friday night =)

Eleanor said...

@me Thank you for your reflections, they're very sweet indeed. I'm sure someone else had to feel the same way about our humble interwebbing beginnings. O Angelfire! O Fortune City! How things will never be the same again!

@evrybdygegeget Your comment made me chortle considerably, thank you! You can see your stamp on C&CM #18, I'm sure! Cannot wait for more musical musing and machinations, it'll be great!

sharnee said...

Oh I often feel like I am the only person who remembers geocities with fondness. I am so glad that I'm not.

It was a very personal space where it really was about love and not at all about advertising, PR and all that stuff that is drowning out blogs these days.

I love your blog, will have to d/l your podcasts tonight.

Eleanor said...

Hi Sharnee! Thanks for visiting and leaving your thoughtful comment!

I know exactly what you mean. I see it more in the realm of fashion blogs more than music blogs. It's possible to achieve true fame and notoriety through your blog, there's even the chance to make money through it... but then a suspicion arises whether it's a paid-up advertisement or a genuine point of view. There's something beautiful about the web being a poor, amateurish mess, free of suspicion.

I've been enjoying your blog too! Your tales of working at the sex shop are particularly awkward and wonderful!