ASCII by Jason Scott

Jason Scott's Weblog

Geocities Saved! —

OK, so here’s the high-level report: We Saved Geocities!

Obviously, this needs a truckload of qualifications, so let’s go over them immediately.

First of all “We” is not just Archive Team, badass archivist motherfuckers that we are. While probably 30-40 people from around the world stopped in on the Archive Team tent at the Geocitiesdownloadapalooza, not all the action was going on with us, and not everyone who stopped in was necessarily working with me as project lead, and so on. There were, it turns out, parallel projects going on, five that we know of, and even more people who we might not know of, dedicated to downloading as much of Geocities as “Archive Team”. We’ve had people show up in the days since Geocities closed and offer us 20-30 gigabytes of data, some of which we didn’t have in any of our other stores. They just did it – they didn’t need direction or to be part of anything, and they’re happy just to drop off this packet and move on. I’d estimate that we’re probably talking 60-80 people that we know of so far who took a pretty fair shot at downloading a lot of sites that they had nothing to do with previous to Geocities being announced as closing. Altruistically trying to rescue the artifacts from the burning house, not because these were their artifacts, or the artifacts had intrinsic value to them, but because they knew the best thing to do with the burning house was rescue artifacts. That’s fantastic.

Next, there’s no way all these different groups saved every last single bit of Geocities. But at current estimates, with all of us sharing data, we saved over one million accounts. We’re still crunching numbers, of course, and things could change, but we’re looking at somewhere in the range of 3-5 terabytes of data, and very likely having grabbed every major outward-facing geocities account, outward-facing meaning “showing up in links and search engines”. It is entirely possible that someone created an account, didn’t do much with it, never got word out of it, and it’s gone, but for that matter we seem to have many hundreds, possibly thousands, of various default “wow, thanks for making a Geocities account” pages, untouched since creation. So let’s just say, a million goddamned accounts is nothing to sneeze at.

Finally, we saved Geocities in the most important way – we got the word out about this thing, I did a lot of interviews, and while the sneer-and-move-on crowd who would as soon see history burned for not having a good CSS file might ridicule, a lot of other people saw Geocities in a new light.  No longer strictly thought of as a useless financial property a dying company might be jettisoning to save some coin, it’s now recognized, in some quarters, as one of the largest-scale folk-art installations to exist in the history of the world.  People are unhappy that all this stuff is gone, and more importantly, people felt they could speak out about how they felt unhappy. There was no large-scale effort to petition and protest Yahoo for this; but I did see quite a bit of pity. The kind of pity you feel for a person who doesn’t understand what they have or what they’re doing, immolating themselves for the short-term and walking away from opportunity after opportunity, on the way to inevitable irrelevance and also-ran status.

I’m spending time with a few people who have large archives, and we’re synchronizing our working out what’s where, and how to get the data around. I then have a short-list of people who, involved with history or culture or sociology, are lining up outside to be sent hard drives of Geocities and looking forward to close and meaningful study. Who thought this would be the case in April?

Ultimately, the archive team demonstration/curated collection of Geocities will be at Geociti.es. I’m focusing us on just the pre-Yahoo sites as a first step. Other locations are going whole hog. Everything is going well. We’re all doing awesome. Already, tearful folks have found one of the groups of people and recovered data they thought was lost forever. I don’t expect these expressions of gratefulness to die down anytime soon. It was worth it before, for history, but it’s worth it even more knowing we’ve made lives and memories better for this.

We lost. And we won. I’m delighted.


Categorised as: computer history

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19 Comments

  1. [...] Geocities Saved (Jason Scott) [...]

  2. [...] Scott, uno de los miembros del grupo, explicó que la tarea contó con el apoyo desinteresado de personas de todo el mundo, quienes contribuyeron [...]

  3. Church says:

    This is great to hear. How much of the total do you estimate (at this early stage) was salvaged? Sounds like up to half of the total.

  4. [...] Geocities Saved! (tags: Internet) [...]

  5. mike says:

    Congratulations to everybody involved. Nice job!

  6. Benj Edwards says:

    Excellent work, Jason. And to all who participated in the effort. I wish you guys had been around during the destruction of the Great Library of Alexandria.

  7. Phil says:

    I simply missed the geocities shutdown, went past me in the media. I dont know how. Now I am desperatly waiting for the archiv to come up and I hope that all my old grafic design stuff which I stored on geocities is still there. Thanks for the big effort. Keep it up!

  8. [...] Geocities Saved – ASCII has announced that its team has managed to archive quite a large portion of the websites hosted by the now-defunct Geocities. [...]

  9. Eva Kiss says:

    index.html
    I dont’ know if you can help me, but I am praying that you can.
    The above was my very first attempt at creating something beautiful, in memory of my only child, who was murdered as a Canadian citizen, in Bridgeport, Ct.. U.S.A. in 2001.
    I followed everything Geocities instructed me to do, (they stated ‘I didn’t have to do anything, they would take care of everything), and now I cannot find my website. My music, my most inner thoughts, hurt and anger, and different points in my life, until arrests were made in 2006, and my pictures. Please, can you help me locate my website, I want to be given the opportunity to print it out and save it, which was not given to me. I never thought Geocities would do this, and I was a Plus Customer. Please help me if you can. My site was created in 2001, and ran up until the middle of 2009. Sincerely yours, Eva, Mom to Zoltan.

  10. jas says:

    eva you should have received SEVERAL emails from geocities, and they didnt say they would take care of everything.

    they provided plain instructions saying you have to backup your site and you had until late october to do so. you’re probably out of luck.

    also i hope you have the blog operator your email addy

    i see an old entry on archive.org that you can retrieve
    http://web.archive.org/web/20050208161802/http://www.geocities.com/murderinconnecticut/

  11. jas says:

    whats up with the wil wheaton thing btw

  12. [...] saved Geocities! Jason Scott gibt einen kurzen Lagebericht und berichtet, welche Lehren er bisher aus der Arbeit an dem Mammutprojekt gezogen hat. Die vom [...]

  13. Eva Kiss says:

    Hi Jason: I am sorry, but I just had to send to you: Geocties e-mail to me. ‘As a valued Geocities Plus Customer: You won’t experience any change to your site. Your friends and family will still be able to view your site as usual’. This is what was written to me. So where is my site? It belongs to me, I paid to have it there. Please help! Sincerely – Eva, Mom to Zoltan.

  14. jas says:

    eva i have been trying to get ahold of you.

    i think i have a way of piecing together what you lost from internet caches, and you can get 99%
    of it back

    what is your contact info ?

  15. mr bb says:

    there are many fan sites I must see.
    Yahoo If I ever come to the states the first thing I would do is piss all over your walls

  16. fernando says:

    How can I remove content from geociti.es?

    I save my geocities.com site, but nowadays there is two versios:

    * my version
    * geociti.es version

    I dont want to be punished by search engines because there are two sites with the same content.

    Furthermore, geociti.es version is not updated.

  17. LİNDA says:

    Excellent work, Jason. And to all who participated in the effort. I wish you guys had been around during the destruction of the Great Library of Alexandria….

  18. Patricia says:

    I just tried to click on the geociti.es link and it was not functioning. I would love to see it. Has this been moved to a different domain? Keep me posted.
    – Patricia -