domingo, 18 de julio de 2010

GeoCities

Los que se conectaron por primera vez a Internet en la década de los 90, recordarán a altavista o a GeoCities (ya desaparecida) como las webs más importante de la Internet de los 90. En GeoCities estaba un importante porcentaje de la Internet de los 90.

GeoCities era el servicio de alojamiento más importante del momento. Muchísimos de los que hoy nos dedicamos al desarrollo web empezamos en GeoCities con webs artesanales escritas cuando eramos unos adolescentes.

En aquella época no existían los blogs ni tecnologías similares que con apretar un botón ya tienes una web, no existían asistentes. Desarrollar una web era un trabajo de artesanía, cada web era única y personal, lo que daba a GeoCities algo especial que ya no tiene ningún sitio de alojamiento.

Por aquella época GeoCities estaba dividido en barrios y estos en suburbios. Cada barrio representaba una temática, así existía "silicon valley", referida a la tecnología. Los usuarios debía elegir un vecindario, suburbio y un portal. Cada vecindario tenía su centro social. No solo era un lugar de alojamiento, sino toda una comunidad virtual. La estructura era entrañable.

Es una verdadera lástima que Yahoo no haya conservado los discos duros de los servidores. GeoCities tiene un valor histórico incalculable, como lo son las pirámides de Egipto para la humanidad.

A los responsables del Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación, les digo que lo que hizo GeoCities fue innovación, auténtica innovación. Sin GeoCities, la Internet actual posiblemente no sería la que es.

He encontrado una web que lista todos los barrios y suburbios: http://www.bladesplace.id.au/geocities-neighborhoods-suburbs.html

Puedes ver como sería la estética de una página allá por el año 1995: The Geocities-izer. La propia página tiene una estética de aquella época.

Por suerte, existe un proyecto para archivar el GeoCities de aquella época: Reocities. En este sitio hay una petición que puedes firmar:

We've never met, and probably never will, but I would like to ask your cooperation in a matter that I think is of great importance.

Somehow Yahoo! has made the decision on pulling the plug on GeoCities.

Presumably this was in order to cut costs, and improve Yahoos' profitability, which was the subject of some discussion in the last couple of months, and which led to you becoming CEO of Yahoo! in the first place.

I understand the motive and the need for Yahoo! to look after the interests of its shareholders.

Now, it is not in the power of small folks like me to influence board room decisions made at your level, but in this case I think a grave mistake has been made.

When the Taliban decided to blow up those antique statues a while ago there was worldwide uproar. Thousands upon thousands of people spoke out against it, recognized that what was lost here was a unique statement of the cultural state of mankind, a sense of loss was felt by all.

In the name of religion culture was destroyed.

And now, perhaps unwittingly, Yahoo! has committed a similar act. When those statues were blown up it was clearly an act of vandalism. That we are not in our lifetimes going to travel to Afghanistan to see them is a small detail.

But Yahoo! GeoCities pages were a monument too, and were accessible to (and accessed by) millions from all over the world. It was not just a business unit, it was something that mankind made, that Yahoo! had custody over.

It was a monument that stood as testimony to the birth of the World Wide Web, something that will surely occupy the scholars of the future. To Yahoo! it may have simply been a bunch of bits on some hard disks. But to humanity is was much more than that.

In the name of commerce culture was destroyed.

In the business world there is plenty of precedent for the donation of unwanted items to musea, and this is a prime opportunity for Yahoo! to show it really cares about the content that its users entrust it with, and what to do with content once a web business is no longer viable.

I can't believe that once this has been pointed out to you that you will not recognize the truth of it, and I urgently ask you to do one of the following things:
  • re-open GeoCities in a 'read only' mode, possibly under a different name, in order to cut down on the traffic, to preserve the data for generations to come
  • cooperate with archive.org, reocities.com, or any one of a number of entities that want to save this unique data for the future
If you don't do that you run the risk of being mentioned right alongside the Taliban, and that's not a place in history worth having.

It doesn't cost you anything, and mankind will be grateful to you for ever.

Yours Sincerely,

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