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.

March 28, 2007

EHollywood.Net: A Museum of Mid-1990's Interactivity

Electronic Hollywood was a NY-based interactive agency whose 1997-2002 run paralleled the rise and fall of the so-called "dot-com" era (a time now referred to by many people as "the Web 1.0 years).

Unlike many shuttered agencies, which simply disappeared from the Web without leaving a cyber-trace, EHollywood's creators did us all a favor by archiving many of their projects, giving historians a good clear view of their work.

Especially interesting is EHollywood's Cartoons area, which shows examples of very early computer-generated cartoons intended for Web distribution. One charming, somewhat crudely rendered cartoon involves "CyberSlacker," a 22-year old female programmer (AKA "hacker chick and warrior goddess") who lives in a seamy apartment on the Lower East Side and struggles to make it in Manhattan's uber-intense Silicon Alley scene. What makes CyberSlacker so poignant is knowing that today, you have to have at least $60 million dollars to live in any rathole on the Lower East Side; one can only wonder where CyberSlaker, now a wizened 30 years old, is ekeing out her existence now. (I'd guess Yonkers or perhaps the outskirts of Newark).

Also interesting is Distant Corners, a 15-minute Flash cartoon with occasional interludes of user-generated interactivity and a truly bizarre user interface that looks like it crawled out of an Atari. And connisseurs of early Shockwave will get a kick out of EHollywood's Games area, and those with an interest in War on Drugs messaging will be intrigued by a series of anti-drug banner ads the agency executed for the Partnership for Drug Free America.

Of particular interest to those of us who do SEO and SEM for a living are the sites that EHollywood built for various Kraft properties, including Kraft Spaghettios. This site, done in Javascript and Flash, must have wowed them in 1997, but it would be inconceivable that such a site would be built today, given that the way it's constructed renders it completely invisible to search engines. Without intending to cast any aspersions on the folks who built this (they would have no way of knowing how important title tags, anchor text, and breadcrumbs would become in 1997), the Spagheetios site is a wonderful demonstration of what not to do in a post-Google world.

Another history-rich area of EHollywood is its Press Kit area, which contains cached copies of articles written about the agency by many magazines and sites which no longer exist.

All in all, this archival site provides a fascinating view of the kind of work that New York's interactive agencies were doing back in the mid to late 1990's.

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