a web site
for ghost sites

by Florian Rötzer

Telepolis, January 14, 1999

Note from Ghost Sites: We provide the following article for the sole reason that Grandfather Baldwin was good enough to provide a first-class translation of a German article available here.

The Web really lives in the permanently present, in order to draw attention to itself in the global marketplace of offerings. It will be "new and cool" [in English], and Web sites will be constantly updated. Often one gets out of breath, if one gets an idea, works hard to get it on the Web, and then something goes wrong, either a bankruptcy, or just that one loses interest.

Everyone already knows how short-lived the Internet is, perhaps because it grew up so quickly. (arrow: The Net has no memory, as yet.) Many are trying to confer some memory on the net, while others are of the mistaken opinion that they can preserve eternal monuments on the net. There are in fact lasting Web sites, which can still be visited, although they have nothing more to offer, and they have probably been long since forgotten by their originators.

Site is Stuffed, Embalmed, and Ready for Internet Museum

Since 1996 Steve Baldwin has been collecting these Ghost Sites and paradoxically had even installed a site on the web, which for the time being is being updated. Whoever encounters a nice find can report the URL. In July 1996, as Baldwin reports, he had a revelation, from which his project stemmed. "From way down under came up a horrifying vision of the World Wide Web. It was not a friendly place, not a peaceful place of fellowship, business, and chat. It was a giant and merciless electronic ocean, which swallows up sites, careers, and risk capital like a killer whale. Great realms are lost, and proud Sites sink to the ground. The future is a huge abyss. Who can chronicle the days of the madness, catastrophe, and despair of the new media?"

Site is Dead, Shows Advanced Decay

After a short period of bloom the Ghost Sites project itself became a Web Wreck, until Baldwin reinstalled it on the high seas of the Web. Curiosities, often secretive or laughable, or nostalgic ("Best Viewed with Netscape 1.1."). It is often an adventure to stroll through the forgotten and decrepit buildings with no longer functioning links and applications, and to see the hope that often lies behind the opening of a gate. The data is frozen, but the T-shirts are still being offered. A great deal is still "under construction," and weekly Updates are on the way. No word of the departure is left behind. One is simply pulled in and out, and left with ruins of this after world, until it too will have vanished from the Alzheimer-memory of the global brain. The historians and nostalgia seekers must be quick in the epoch of cyberspace. The ruins after thousands of years will not be able to be buried. They will simply disappear into nothingness.

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