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Unraveling the web's story

May 2021 Weblog: Communities Long Gone

A little late on this one.

Quick programming note. I’ll be taking the month of June off as I catch up on a bit of research and get a few stories tightened up. Back in July with more.

Saving the Archive

I’m doing research into Geocities right now, and one of the more interesting facts is that from its demise came the Archive Team, a cobbled together group of volunteers with computing cycles to spare trying to save parts of the internet before their deathAn article in Protocol last month deals with another of these efforts: The Internet Archive, founded by Brewster Kahle. The Internet, through paywalls and ephemeral URL structures and bludgeoned censorship, is making webpages harder to save. But the effort continues.

Neopets Crisis

In Polygon, Nicole Carpenter takes a peek into the world of Neopets, a site that continues to operate and thrive after 20 years. Recently, a group of players have begun bending the rules of Neopets, running scripts on the site to gather more points, and developing a black market of pet trading and discussion. This is not the first time that societal problems have crept into the fictional universe of Neopia. It’s interesting that it continues to happen to the site largely in spite of itself, as Neopets languishes between sales to new owners, the site’s users have taken it upon themselves to continue evolving it, with or without the help of its owners. It’s a good demonstration of what happens when parts of the web are left alone and in control of its users, even if that is mostly by accident.

Traveling Early

If you’re interested in how travel on the web came to be, I found just about the most in-depth overview you could likely find. The aptly named Definitive Oral History of Online Travel in Skift goes all the way back to the days before the web, through the dot-com boom, and into the modern day, featuring familiar names like Travelocity, Expedia, and Priceline.

The Power of Community

I recently finished Here Comes Everybody by media theorist and former dot-com entrepeneur Clay Shirky. Shirky’s perspective on the web shifted after his time as a fixture in Silicon Alley. His observations about what the web makes possible, and how it has come to redefine community, are as captivating as they are detailed. Pairs well with The Wikipedia Revolution, a bit drier and narrower in scope, but interesting if you’re into where Wikipedia came from.