Thursday, August 01, 2019

"The Early Internet Is Breaking": Old amateur digital content from the early web melts away (and now there is censorship)





Quartz presents “The Early Internet Is Breaking: Here’s How the World Wide Web from the Early 90s Will Be Saved” directed by Meghan McDonogh and Marie LaCerte.


Two former “Netizens” Dragan and Olia recall how it was in the clownish days, of Hometown AOL (which opened pretty much in 1996 after Congress passed Section 230), augmenting to corporate content of AOL and Prodigy; soon there were many small personal web pages, and I supported my own first “Do Ask Do Tell” book with a site called “hppub” (acronym for High Productivity Publishing) hosted by a coworker’s company then called “Virtualnetspace” itself residing on a Rackspace in suburban Maryland called “Announce”.  I had it hosted this way for four years and it was surprisingly stable.

The big platform was Geocities, with over 38 million pages;  one of these belonged to the Paul Rosenfels Community or the Ninth Street Center.

The film notes that many old sites are lost as owners simply don’t renew domain names.  They also note the demise of Myspace (a target of Dr. Phil) as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram took over.
  
They barely mention the censorship problem, which has erupted as a (“regressive Left”) backlash against the Trump administration and particularly the fear of the stochastic threat of the alt-right, as illustrated by Charlottesville, which has even led conventional hosting companies to cancel accounts of a few of their extreme customers, setting a dangerous precedent.

There is a project to archive older sites (besides the Internet Archive Wayback machine itself) called Webrecorder.  I'll look into this. 

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