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.

December 22, 2008

New Mediapost Article: Small Business to PPC Search: Drop Dead

New Mediapost Article: Ten (Highly Cynical) Predictions for 2009I've written a new MediaPost article discussing a new Microsoft study showing that the majority of small business owners want nothing to do with PPC search. Frankly, there are some very good reasons for their caution: PPC search can be one of the fastest guaranteed ways to lose money.

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December 08, 2008

New Mediapost Article: Ten (Highly Cynical) Predictions for 2009

New Mediapost Article: Ten (Highly Cynical) Predictions for 2009Putting on my clairvoyant tinfoil Pundit Hat, I predict ten major developments in Search Marketing for the coming year.

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December 05, 2008

Let's Put the Automotive Age Behind Us

Train of the Future
Originally uploaded by brooklynparrot

I am sickened by the idea that U.S. taxpayers will soon bail out the auto industry, which -- along with collaborators in the rubber and petroleum industries -- has done more damage to rational transportation in the U.S. than almost any other factor.

Railroads are far more efficient, leave a smaller carbon footprint, take up very little space relative to highways, and deserve -- finally -- to be given their chance to compete. Let's build the true costs of transportation and ecological destruction into cars and see how they compete.

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November 24, 2008

New Mediapost Article: Reality Bites Hard

New Mediapost Article: Reality Bites HardThere's something rotten in the Internet Economy, and I'm mad as hell that more people aren't even talking about it. My latest, angst-ridden rant from MediaPost.

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November 20, 2008

New Mediapost Article: Pennies From Heaven

New Mediapost Article: Pennies From HeavenThe U.S. economy is in shambles, our collective future is in doubt, and many of us lucky enough to be employed in tech may soon be looking for jobs. I've survived a few recessions (barely): here's some advice for surviving what may be the worst time in your professional life.

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November 17, 2008

Remember When TV Commercials Were Brilliant?

I don't own a television, because I so detest watching today's crummy commercials. But at one point in time -- some forty years ago -- commercials were brilliant, arguably more fun to watch than the shows in which they were interspersed. Check out this Alka Seltzer spot, which is just as funny today as the date in aired back in 1969. The agency was Doyle Dane Bernbach, whose creative director, Roy Grace (1937-2003), conceived it and other classic spots of the era.

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I Will Miss

I Will Miss ValleyWag.comIn its heyday, was the must-visit site for those benighted souls deeply interested in the flawed brilliance of Silicon Valley's enterepreneur class. From nothing, it built a dedicated viewership of some 1 million unique visitors per month, but that was not enough to sustain it, especially since it paid its writers a bounty for high-traffic posts that went viral. won't actually close down: it will be folded into but it will certainly lose much of its spice in the process. It's always a sad day when the Web loses an original voice.


November 04, 2008


October 29, 2008

Exploring the Ruins of

Exploring the Ruins of Lehman.comLehman Brothers, at the domain, is of course the giant investment bank that was allowed to fail, tipping the global financial system into chaos and collapse. The company is now in a state of bankruptcy, but its sprawling website appears much as it was before the end came.

Check out's History Timeline: it carefully records every detail of Lehman's existence but only through 2007. The site's Awards and Recognition page is another eerie area. Right up to the end of its existence, the firm appears to have been such accolades as "Best Credit Derivative House." Perhaps the ghostliest area of is its Careers page, where an invitation to "Begin Your Journey" and "Engage Your Passion" rotates undeterred by events. Similarly, the firm's Intellectual Capital section is months out of date. has become unstuck in time, and while it's perhaps disingenous to expect that a lowly HTML coder would have been retained merely to update these sections, but the lack of closure is stunning.

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October 28, 2008

Best. Commercial. Ever.


October 13, 2008

New Mediapost Article: Stressed Out at SMX

New Mediapost Article: Stressed Out at SMXMy latest MediaPost rant bewails the fact that SEM trade shows do a great job of educating newbies about basic search tactics, but do a very poor job of providing anything but 101-level info, which means that exhibitors looking for a meaningful conversation with advanced-level prospects are left holding a very expensive bag.

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October 03, 2008

Sarah Palin: The Fargo Interview

Watch Sarah Palin meets Fargo in Funny Videos  |  View More Free Videos Online at

Linguistic soul mates Sarah Palin and Marge Gunderson finally meet in one of the best video mash-ups ever made. Who the heck is the genius who made this? Step forward and claim your just award. Another good find courtesy of Andrew Sullivan's Blog.

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End of the American Dream?

A frighteningly surreal video report about people living along "Foreclosure Alley" in California who are losing their homes. Shown are "trashout" crews that ferry valuable belongings to the dump instead of selling them, guys who paint brown lawns green to increase abandoned homes' marketability, and swimming pool drainers fighting West Nile virus. Props to Andrew Sullivan for finding and posting this initially.


September 29, 2008

New Mediapost Article: Crisis of Confidence Threatens Everyone in SEM

New Mediapost Article: Crisis of Confidence Threatens Everyone in SEMMy latest Mediapost rant discusses why (Search Engine Marketing) will self-destruct unless the industry somehow manages to reform itself. Frankly, I think that it may be too late to save it, because there are too many people making money from incompetence, waste, and greed (kinda like Wall Street before its big fall).

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September 27, 2008

In Praise of Paul Newman

Update 9/26/2008: Paul Newman has died at his home in Connecticut.

(original article, posted 8/13/2008)


I'm certainly not alone in being troubled by news that Paul Newman is gravely ill. Paul Newman is a great actor and more importantly, a great human being, who's given almost a quarter of a billion dollars to charity and has touched many lives with his kindness. To celebrate his life, I've been watching a lot of Paul Newman movies recently. Without further ado, here are my picks for the Top 10 Best Paul Newman Movies of all time. I've linked title text to Amazon in case you want to check out any of these works yourself and add them to your DVD library.

1. The Hustler (1962) This classic, atmospheric film has much more than electrifying performances from Newman, Piper Laurie, Jackie Gleason, and George C. Scott. It's a no holds-barred look at what it takes to succeed in America, and the supreme costs one must pay for doing so. If you only watch one Paul Newman film, this is the one to see.

2. Hud (1963) Newman's Hud is the unforgettable Texan anti-hero, an unprincipled man of absolute self-centered nastiness. This beautifully filmed (by James Wong Howe) tragic drama features unforgettable performances by Melvyn Douglas, Patricia Neal, and Brandon De Wilde.

3. The Verdict (1982) Paul Newman's breathtaking performance as a 50-ish, washed-up alcoholic lawyer who realizes that his one path left open for redemption is through a trial by fire. Screenplay by David Mamet, direction by Sydney Lumet, with a stellar supporting performance by Jack Warden. This film is flawless and if The Hustler and Hud weren't such brilliant works, The Verdict would be #1 on this list.

4. Slap Shot (1977) Quite possibly the best, most hilariously endearing movie about sports ever made, with Newman, as coach Reggie Dunlop, attempting to coax one more championship from a doomed New York state hockey team filled with miscreants and misfits. A true classic that was way ahead of its time and still packs belly-laughs today.

5. Harper (1966) A New Age noir sleeper based on Ross Macdonald's "The Moving Target," Harper has it all: dysfunctional LA families, a shady mystic guru, fast fists, fillies, gunplay, and treachery. This film's score by Johnny Mandel is one of the best of the 1960s. An excellent cast is rounded out by Lauren Bacall, Julie Harris, Robert Wagner, and Strother Martin.

6. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969) The quintessential Western buddy film that was a monster hit when it was released and still charms.

7. Cool Hand Luke (1967) I suppose that Cool Hand Luke will be the film that Paul Newman will ultimately be remembered for, because the character of Luke so completely expresses the alienation and rebellion of the 1960s. Even though Luke isn't exactly a brainiac, Newman's intelligence shines through the part of the doomed work camp convict.

8. The Color of Money (1986) A sequel to The Hustler directed by Martin Scorcese, this film captures Fast Eddie Felton twenty years into his career, a sadder, wiser, but no less formidable man. I'm not a big Tom Cruise fan but Tom is great as a young pool hustler that Fast Eddie takes under his wing. If you've got the middle-age blues The Color of Money will cure ya!

9. Absence of Malice (1981) A terrific "message picture" that probes big questions about the responsibility of the media, and yet doesn't fail to thoroughly entertain. Another Sydney Pollack classic with a stellar cast, including Sally Field as an overzealous newspaper reporter.

10. The Drowning Pool (1975) A stylish, dark sequel to Harper, The Drowning Pool takes Lew Harper to Los Angeles, where he meets a qualitatively different sort of degradation and despair. Few sequels match the originals in quality: the Drowning Pool manages to be just as good as Harper. Joanne Woodward is excellent as Harper's doomed paramour.

Yeah, I know: I had to leave a bunch of great Paul Newman movies off this list, including Winning (the film that got Paul into car racing), The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean (a romp directed by John Huston), The Long Hot Summer (plenty of fireworks between Newman and Woodward), The Sting (a classic scam twister), Road to Perdition (Paul's last film), and lots of others that I haven't seen yet or seen recently enough to evaluate. Maybe a "top 10" list for Paul Newman doesn't do his work justice at all!

While I dearly hope that all the rumors about Paul's health are false, we're all mortals, and Paul has left us so much in his films and in his life that he'll be with us for a long long time: as long, anyway, as there are intelligent people willing to create, as well as watch, intelligent movies.

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September 10, 2008

New Mediapost Article: Is The Ad World Finally Taking SEM Seriously?

New Mediapost Article: Is The Ad World Finally Taking SEM Seriously? Advertising Week is an annual ritual in New York that often brims with self-congratulatory silliness, and I tend to avoid it like the plague. Advertising -- at least in my mind -- is largely based on lies, spin, the creation of false needs and false consciousness. Frankly, if we as a nation spent less on advertising and more on improving products, we'd all have a better world. Still, as I write in this week's MediaPost, there's a bit of good news: this year's Advertising Week appears to be paying more attention to SEM (Search Engine Marketing), a far less wasteful, less obnoxious, and more profitable form of marketing that deserves its day in the sun.

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