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Internet services I have loved and lost…

After thinking about the closure of ThisIsMyJam, I started to think about what services I truly miss after 15 years+ online. And it’s a surprisingly short list.

 

Homestead: It turns out Homestead is actually still in operation. But having used it as a free website builder back when it launched in 1998, I could have sworn that it closed down existing sites at some point fairly early on. It’s certainly changed hands a few time, whilst the design examples don’t seem to reflect modern websites. It introduced me to concepts like blogging and creating websites without learning about HTML and databases, which in hindsight probably wasn’t the most valuable way to do things. Certainly my early projects like a listing and review service for pubs might have been more viable had they evolved into something like FancyAPint, rather than an early WYSWIG rival to GeoCities. And it means I have no archive of those early days, compared to my blogging on Blogger, which was then imported to WordPress and the archives of this and my main business site.

 

The Loaded Magazine Chat Room: At the end of the last century I went to live in America to study for a year. And discovered relatively fast university internet. As a result, I suddenly became a far heavier web user than when a 56k dial-up connection was my only link to the world (and was again when I returned to the UK).

But while cool internet veterans refer to their time on Usenet, Listserv and ICQ, I somehow ended up hanging out in the chat room of the Loaded Magazine website. It was a link back home, and a place to hang out and talk about all sorts of things. I had some friends and made some great new buddies in America, but when I needed to vent, and I couldn’t think about the cost of phoning the UK, it was perfect.

I can’t remember exactly when it closed, as my time there slowed down a bit when I relied on an AOL dialup account at home. But it introduced me to the concept of online communities, which informed my work at places like MCN, where managing the chat rooms and forums were an early task. And a couple of years ago, I spotted a familiar username on a videogame forum, which turned out to be one of the Loaded friends from 10+ years earlier.

 

Internet_Services_We_Lost

Possibly a little too melodramatic, but still…

Google Reader: Now we can finally jump to this century. Plenty of time and services had been and gone – but although losing them was an inconvenience, it wasn’t something that stuck with me.

Not so Google Reader.

I was never sure that RSS would catch on with a general audience. But it was invaluable to most of the people I wanted to connect with online. For work and learning, it was a great way to keep up when most people were actively focused on blogging as their prime way of sharing. And the social features were incredibly important to that.

Several of the people I valued most on Google Reader were people I wouldn’t have necessarily been friends with on Facebook. Twitter launched a year later, Facebook hadn’t added the ‘Follow’ option, and I didn’t really want to stay in touch socially with all the people I connected with on Google Reader. I just wanted to be able to learn what they were reading and cared about enough to share. And that was perfect.

Alternatives have grown, such as Feedly, but the rise of social networks and drop in blogging and RSS for many people means that it hasn’t caught on in quite the same way. And the social side of RSS readers seems to have lost critical mass forever.

 

ThisIsMyJam: See the link above, but slower paced sharing and the focus on music means it’ll occupy a similar place to Reader in allowing me to see what songs were most important to people who I may never want to connect with elsewhere.

 

I’d be really interested to know what services you miss? And what services you’re currently worried might disappear? I’m currently wondering about the future of social bookmarking, especially Diigo and Delicious, for example.

Comments

  1. AltaVista and DirectHit.

    • DanThornton says:

      Cheers for the comment Mr McKinnon – AltaVista I obviously remember…. Was Direct Hit the one acquired by AskJeeves in 2000? I can’t remember what search engine I even used in those days – I suspect a combo of AskJeeves and whatever Yahoo was offering (I was young and didn’t know better).

      Actually you’ve just reminded me of a major omission – Blekko. It was a good search engine and the extra webmaster info etc was reminiscent of the early days of Google when it was reasonably helpful to those running websites…

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