In Hello, World!, Alice Guidi takes a dumpster dive into the digital detritus created after the unceremonious closure of GeoCities by Yahoo in 2009. Founded in 1994, GeoCities was a free service that allowed anyone to create their own page on the World Wide Web in exchange for selling advertising on its users pages. Features like thematic neighbourhoods, guestbooks and the ability to leave comments on other people’s pages turned GeoCities in the most popular proto-social network of the 1990s.   Five years after it launched, it was the world’s third most-visited website and was bought by Yahoo!…
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Hello, World!

Alice Guidi

In Hello, World!, Alice Guidi takes a dumpster dive into the digital detritus created after the unceremonious closure of GeoCities by Yahoo in 2009. Founded in 1994, GeoCities was a free service that allowed anyone to create their own page on the World Wide Web in exchange for selling advertising on its users pages. Features like thematic neighbourhoods, guestbooks and the ability to leave comments on other people’s pages turned GeoCities in the most popular proto-social network of the 1990s.
 
Five years after it launched, it was the world’s third most-visited website and was bought by Yahoo! for around $4 billion. After the sale the site was dogged by a string of unfortunate events and missteps. GeoCities was accused of selling personal data to third parties, the neighbourhoods system was dismantled and then the dot-com bubble burst. New social media platforms also began to emerge. Yahoo! decided to close GeoCities with little notice and delete its 38million user-generated pages. The day after the deletion GeoCities had disappeared from the main search engines. But digital archivists swore to preserve as much as they could. Ten years later, millions of GeoCities pages are available for anyone to download online.
 
Confronting issues around data ownership and privacy, and questioning the value of our digital artefacts, Hello, World! is an exploration of cyber junk. Using the contemporary social-media phenomenon of the hashtag to resurface data from the GeoCities archive, the project invites us to reflect on the evolution of digital information and society after 25 years of the internet.

Credits

Quantitative Data Analysis: Diego Alberici

Thanks to: The Archive Team, GeoCities Archive

Additional Material

Text Extraction Python Scripts Zip File Link

Hello, World! Final Book PDF Link

References

Archive Team, “Geocities—The Torrent,” Academic Torrents, 2010. Link

Archive Team, “The Archive Team Geocities Snapshot (Part 1 of 8),” Internet Archive, October 2009. Link

Dragan Espenschied, “Geocities,” Github, April 3, 2013. Link

Dylan Curran, “Are you ready? Here is all the data Facebook and Google have on you,” The Guardian, March 30, 2018.

Ian Milligan, “Finding Popular Images Within a Web Archive: Exploring GeoCities,” Ian Milligan, August 3, 2016.

Jake Rossen, “15 Megabytes of Fame: The Geocities Story,” MentalFloss, January 25, 2018.

John Marshall, “Cyber-Space, or Cyber-Topos: The Creation of Online Space,” Social Analysis: The International Journal of Anthropology 45, no. 1 (April 2001): 81–102. Link

Matt McGee, “Google, Yahoo, Bing Bury Geocities.com, But Some Zombie Sites Are Still Alive,” Search Engine Land, November 2, 2009.

Matthew Shachmeister, “Ghost Pages: A Wired.com Farewell to Geocities,” Wired, March 11, 2009.

Scott Gilbertson, “Geocities, Identity and the Problem with Disappearing Web Services,” Wired, October 8, 2009.

“Yahoo buys Geocities,” CNN Business, January 28, 1999.

Bio

Alice Guidi is a designer and researcher from Bologna. She received her masters at Design Academy Eindhoven in 2018 and has a previous background in conservation science. She is deeply interested in socioeconomic, cultural, and global-local contexts. Her practice questions digital and physical spaces and how these interact with people’s lives and behaviours, using an interdisciplinary approach.

Contacts

a-gu.eu Link