We’re nowhere near done with the absorbing of as much of Geocities as we can take, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have a little time to show off the kind of stuff that’s being scooped up in great handfuls by the machinery.
Among these things are the idea of the “Under Construction” graphic, a perfect example of something that was once ubiquitous, of its time, and rapidly falling beyond just disuse and into the burying of memory and reference. Perhaps it might be shocking to someone to think that others don’t know what’s meant when referencing “Under Construction” GIFs, but this is a natural thing when you have people mere years into their web-browsing experience.
Hence, may I introduce an Archive Team Exhibit:
Feel free to instead just click on this helpful graphic:
Oh, and speaking of helpful, a small warning: the onslaught of nearly a thousand “Under Construction” GIFs may crash your browser. But that’s the price of going to a museum – sudden and terrible crippling death twitching in the face of historical artifacts. We all have to live with that risk.
What I like about this exhibit is that it captures the emotions of the entire Archive Team project with regards to Geocities. Some people scream “WHY!!!!” at the heavens, others grow emotional realizing how much is here, and others just walk along briskly while pointing and laughing and then moving onto the next great thing the web is giving them for free.
There are stories here; stories of why people felt the need to do Under Construction images on their web pages, the people who did ever-more-elaborate images to one-up other designers, and the many ways that a simple idea was turned around and modified for a wide variety of needs and priorities. Notable, for example, is that two or three versions of the same GIF that appear on that page are often re-calibrated to use less space: 15k, say, versus 100k. You know, to get that precious space back. 85k makes a difference and adds up when you have a total of 15mb to store things, or you’re on something like Geocities where there was a per-hour limit on how much you could transfer.
I could probably spend quite a bit of time going into the aspects of these graphics in a historical, design, and technical context. But the fact is, there’s no time to properly do that. I was surprised to see this already the subject of a Metafilter thread. Some excellent reactions and ideas in there – I hope there’s more.
At least there’s some of this history being saved to have ideas about at all.
Remember, Archive Team needs you, one way or another.
Categorised as: computer history
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