I started with GeoCities

Wrote this a few months back; today (October 26th, 2009) being the day GeoCities shuts down, I thought it would be topical.

* * *

So, I heard GeoCities is coming to an end — it will disappear some time later this year, taking with it thousands of home pages, many of them no doubt long abandoned — and one of those home pages is an old one of mine.

Back in and around the misty year 1998 (dear life, 11 years? Can’t be!) I was sixteen, approaching seventeen. I was also in school — those were the last stages of lower high, and the first years of high school, thereabouts. Both schools — in opposite ends of the same big building — happened to have a few computer-classes, and one exercise that cropped up with some regularity was “making a home page”.

This I did with some regularity, and sometimes with plentiful use of my own time — and with heaps-loads more enthusiasm than self-critique. Doing a home page was freeform — you could have any content you wanted, since only the structure counted! And, since that made the thing somehow more “official”, most home pages made this way (or so I remember) found a free nook in some neighborhood of GeoCities, the free home-provider. (Or maybe the reason was that that was the easiest way for the teacher to check them…)

Well, as any content went, the half that I cobbled together in English included a list of “books I have readed”; the lesson there is that though I at that point, sixteen and feeling like I knew everything, had read dozens and dozens of books in English, my writing skills weren’t yet anything comparable. (And it was hellishly frustrating.)

The half that was in Finnish — well, more enthusiasm than skill, self-critique and content combined. An ugly but rather lovable manic sugar-rush of a homepage. (“Wull, couldn’t find a pic of my little bro, so here’s a pic of a chimp” — and then some net-robbed ani-gif of a nodding ape. And this went on for a dozen screenfuls.)

The total came eventually, after at least two home-page making classes and hours and hours of demented free time, to something like three megabytes, over fifty pages, and some two hundred images.

That was eleven years ago; eventually I forgot about those pages, never really caring enough to take them offline. I knew they were out of date, listing a president out of office, schools I was no longer in, ages I no longer was; but by that I thought I had to have something to replace the darn thing with, and I didn’t get any further than a few sketches and a few howls of “Content! My kingdom for some cool, original content!”

That’s the problem with suddenly becoming all self-critical. (Later, I got rid of that trait and started this blog.)

Then, after a few years of forgetting, I remembered the old thing, and tried to sign in to look around — well, I couldn’t quite recall the password. I shrugged, then did something else. Maybe some other day.

A few more years passed, and this same spark struck my brain again. I went over to GeoCities, found I still didn’t remember the password (all physical notes were long lost by then); but, oh joy, there was a password recovery prompt, and —

Well, I found I still couldn’t get back in. See, right now GeoCities demands a Yahoo ID to sign in — I don’t have one. And to go about recovering passwords one would use the e-mail address given when registering the homepage. And that address that is a spam-filled HoTMaiL mailbox whose password I’ve forgotten, and which may have already ceased to exist.

That’s the problem with going to the university and getting a new, shiny mailbox — you drop the old one, and after a while don’t even check it as there isn’t ever anything in except spam… and you forget.

Internet’s a graveyard of blogs with three posts and home pages made when sixteen, all locked to perpetual silence because the passwords are lost and the mailboxes are dead and snowed in with spam.

So: it would have been too much hassle to go about taking the pages down — “I don’t need all the hassles!” — and now GeoCities is closing down. With it goes my lost little complex of pages, with their bad English and worse jokes, stolen graphics and exhibits of creation without aim or skill, writing even when the jokes didn’t come and the content wasn’t there.

I’m kind of relieved, but… well, since nostalgia’s such a nice feeling, I spent an hour or so saving all the content by the slow, save-page-as, save-image-as way. It’s about 5% good stuff, 10% groan-worthy shame, and the rest is schlock.

And no, I shan’t link you there, or tell what to look for on the Internet Archive — “books I have readed”, dear empty heavens!

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