Raiders of the Lost Kozmo.com Files (Updated)
(Update 8/4/2008: the links to these rare Kozmo.com artifacts have drifted over the years, so I've updated them so that the assets remain visible).
No history of Silicon Alley is complete without discussing Kozmo.com. On November 11, 2003, our skeleton crew of researchers, while digging through another midden heap of cybergarbage, discovered a rare and extraordinary find of images, sounds, and movie files developed to promote Kozmo.com - a star-crossed Internet project that was well known to New Yorkers and San Franciscans in the late 1990s. This find, we believe, significantly expands the supply of first-generation digital artifacts associated with Kozmo.com.
Before discussing the gems found within the 11/11/03 Find, let's look at the Kozmo.com digital artifacts that are known to exist today, and the gaps in the historical collection. First, it should be noted that the Internet Archive does appear to contain a fair collection of Kozmo.com, a list of which can be viewed by going to http://web.archive.org/web/*/http://www.kozmo.com.
Unfortunately, much of Kozmo.com did not survive the WayBack Machine's data collection process. None of the examples from 1998 appears to have been preserved intact, and only one recorded example from 1999 survives - the one archived on October 13. The reasons for this seem to be associated with the CGI scripting that Kozmo.com used in this period, which seems to have thrwarted Archive.org's Web-whacking efforts.
Of the 33 efforts the WayBack Machine made to archive the site in 2000 and early 2001, the results are slightly better. One can clearly make out the Kozmo logo and some of its product offerings. Unfortunately, only the home page was preserved in these passes - what was once inside Kozmo is invisible. The last image that survives of Kozmo.com in its pre-failure mode is from March 31, 2000. Ghost Sites made its sole screen grab shortly after this time. So Kozmo isn't very well preserved, which is sad for those who grew to love this service.
Here is where the Ghost Sites Find of 11/11/03 serves to fill some of these gaps, so let's take a quick tour. All of these artifacts were recovered from the Web site of DiMassino, the ad agency that sought to make Kozmo.com a household word in the late 1990's.
On the agency's main Kozmo page, you'll see a quick overview of some extremely strange Kozmo offline branding objects, including a Kozmo Metrocard, a Kozmo business card, the uniform of one of its messengers, and one of its phone booth ads. It's interesting to note that Kozmo.com actually went so far as to trademark the phrase "We'll Be Right Over" (which means that you might want to refrain from ever saying or writing these words unless you're prepared to be sued by whichever liquidator wound up owning the Kozmo.com corporate assets!).
Unfortunately, you can't see much more by clicking anywhere on this page - the really interesting stuff is buried deep within unlinked areas of the agency site that our skeleton crew had to find by resorting to a set of sneaky and stealthy means passed directly to us by Indiana Jones.
So without further ado, here is a list of precious, historically significant digital matter that very few people outside of DiMassimo's tight circle of brand identity experts have likely ever seen:
A close-up of the Kozmo "Dirk Diggler and Fresh Samantha" phone booth ad.
A high resolution image of a different phone booth campaign ("12 Monkeys and 1 Banana Smoothie")
A rare 640 x 60 Web banner ad - "Dirk Diggler and Fresh Samantha"
An even rarer photo of a bus ad - "Dr. Evil and Dr. Pepper"
A Kozmo print ad - "He Got Game. Sony Dreamcast"
The next two pages present examples of Kozmo's attitudinally-driven rest-room advertising (a method also used by Half.com, which placed its ads at the bottom of urinals in the well-trafficked mens room at New York's Grand Central Terminal).
One such ad is "He's Such a Loser - Why Don't You Go Home and Rent a Movie", and a similar one from the male point of view - "That Girl's a Bitch - Why Don't You Go Home and Rent a Movie". Each speaks far more eloquently about American sexual attitudes in the late 1990's than you'd ever find in a skidload of sociological texts borrowed from your local university library.
http://web.archive.org/web/20031209132744/www.dimassimo.com/site/work/kozmo/kozmo_work11.html and http://web.archive.org/web/20031209132744/www.dimassimo.com/site/work/kozmo/kozmo_work12.html contain Kozmo.com screenshots that neither Archive.org nor Ghostsites.com was able to capture. They are perhaps less interesting than the other examples here, but do serve to illustrate what the site actually looked like during its brief sojourn on the Web.
The next two pages in the Lost Kozmo.com Archive contain fascinating radio spots, the first of which is a fake testimonial from one of Kozmo's messengers; the next a curiously homoerotic interview between a customer and a video store owner that was targeted for use in San Francisco.
The Ghost Sites Find of 11/11/03 presents an extraordinary look at the life - both internal and external - of a legendary dotcom that time and memory have not been kind to. Unfortunately, this view - one of the greatest surprises to Web historians since the discovery of the Lost Pathfinder Archive - may not last for very long. Although the GIFs and JPEGs can be saved by historians, neither the Quicktime movies nor the radio spots - the richest data forms in this collection, can be captured for posterity, and DeMassino may have have wanted it this way. In the flick of a switch, we will lose these few remaining pieces of Kozmo's history and it could happen tonight or tomorrow.
The pages on DeMassino's servers provide a rare look into the past that illustrate much more about our time than even its brand identity gurus could have ever intended. One might hope that DeMassino donates some of this material to one or another of the Internet's many data depositories, but this is unlikely. Commercials, in radio, TV, print, or hypermedia, rarely survive more than a few years before they are destroyed completely, and I doubt that Kozmo will provide any exception to this immutable rule.
Note: on November 16, I heard from someone who states that the Kozmo .MOV and audio files that I said "could not be saved" can in fact be saved, and that he has saved them. This is very good news and I hope to have more information about this soon.
For more on Kozmo.com, follow this link).