Ghost Sites of the Web

Web 1.0 history, forgotten web celebrities, old web sites, commentary, and news by Steve Baldwin. Published erratically since 1996.

July 05, 2007 Appears to Be Doomed

It's beginning to look a lot like 2000 again. From ValleyWag comes the news that, a site which got $3 million in funding from the Omidyar Network (formed by eBay Billionaire Pierre Omidyar), will close in a few weeks.'s mission statement was to "captures community knowledge and make it available to all—information you really can't get anywhere else." Horse nuggets: you can get all of that information from local search sites, local Blogs, and other local news searches. For example: I live in Brooklyn, and there are two or three good Blogs for every neighborhood. Do entrepreneurs really think that people don't know how to use search engines or click on Blogrolls? may or may not be removed from the Web (its operators are still trying to come up with more money). But this begs the question: why launch something like when it's so clearly unnecessary? I'm not editorializing here: I'm looking at the Alexa numbers: never got beyond 232,634 in Traffic Rank. Ghost Sites and the other properties ranks 123,695, and nobody here has any money at all!

It's always been my theory that the vast majority of sites out there funded by VC money will fail because they're all doing the same thing. We don't need 200 search engines or 50 video sites or innumerable community aggregating sites. We live in a document-centric universe and search engines are the glue that make all of this accessible. Why reinvent the wheel, even if you have $3 million to do so? Haven't we learned anything in the past six years, or are we all doomed to wind up in The Museum of Interactive Failure?

Labels: is a Ghost Site is a Ghost SiteI'm not a fan of the Apple Computer Company, not because I think Steve Jobs is a horrible person to work for, or that Apple's products are crappy, or that the Mac users I know seem to behave like members of a sinister cult, but because Apple burned me back in the 1980's, and I'll never forgive them. What happened is that I cleaned out my bank account to buy a brand new Apple IIC, and just a few months later Apple decided that it would no longer support the II series, utterly destroying the future value of my investment. Since then, I've used PC's, and I've never been burned as badly again.

So that's my own story: I'll never buy another Apple product, but lots of people don't feel this way: in fact, they're clearly as jazzed by Apple as ever: witness the round-the-block lines last week for the iPhone.

Which brings me to, a site created by a fellow named John Swerdan, who so loved his Mac that he created an entire album's worth of songs about it in the late 1990's and early '00's. Swerdan's audio homage was in the spirit of The Beach Boys and other California-based groups that had written immortal odes to automobiles and motorcycles in the mid-1960's. Of course, Swerdan wasn't the only musician to write about computers in those days: a group called Barcelona released an album called Simon BASIC in 1999 whose theme was the lot of the programming geek; reviewed Shell Account, a later album, in early 2001 and they maintain an active MySpace page. There were also The Geektones, a band which not only wrote songs about computers but about The New Economy. got a lot of play in those days, especially from But for reasons unknown, has not been updated in many years (the site bears a 2001 date-stamp and the most recent entries in its photo section are from 2002).

I tried to see whether I could buy some of John's songs on iTunes but my browser immediately stalled, but that's because I refuse to use iTunes or any other Apple product. If you like Swerdan's songs you might have better luck using PayPal. In any case, is an interesting time capsule of one man's love for a machine. Hey - it's a crazy world with all kinds of strange passions: some nutburgers even write songs about parrots!

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