GeoCities mapping project

In 2011, everyone has a WordPress blog or at least a Tumblr account. Takes you 5 minutes to set up, choose a nice theme and you will have the appearance of a pro. But back in the days, you had to build your homepage yourself and it usually ended looking like that. At least that’s how mine looked like when I was a 14 yo internet noob back in 1996.

The main problem back then was to find a place to host your stuff. And it was definitely not as easy as now… There was this great service called GeoCities that you might remember. I do since I had an address there. And that’s what I loved about it, you had an actual address, a street number in a neighborhood inside GeoCities. Websites were grouped by topic in different areas of the virtual city: Area 51 for the sci-fi nerds (me), Nashville for the country music lovers or West Hollywood for the LGBT were among the hoods you could choose to live in.

GeoCities Mapping Project

In 2009, Yahoo who bought GeoCities ten years earlier decided to shut down the service and deleted the city. Apparently it had suffered from the massive exile of its inhabitants to the new housing projects called Myspace and later Facebook.

Why I’m talking about his in this column? Well, Dutch artist Richard Vijgen had the amazing idea to create an interactive map of it. Instead of paraphrasing it, I’ll just let the artist explain:

“The installation is an interactive visualisation of the 650 gigabyte GeoCities backup made by the Archive Team on October 27, 2009. It depicts the file system as a city map, spatially arranging the different neighbourhoods and individual lots based on the number of files they contain.
In full view, the map is a datavisualisation showing the relative sizes of the different neighbourhoods. While zooming in, more and more detail becomes visible, eventually showing invididual html pages and the images they contain. While browsing, nearby MIDI files are played.”

GeoCities Mapping Project

All I can say is go on the official website and watch the video of the installation in use. As a retro-internet nerd and mapping geek, watching the materialization of GeoCities is like a dream come true.

Alex