December 20, 2000

by Steve Baldwin

Well, we missed our November Update - proof positive that we're always a mere FTP session away from becoming a cyber-relic ourselves -- just like the sites whose passing we attempt to memorialize.

Our slacking off is due in no small part to being very busy offline, and Ghost Sites is proud to announce that we are now working with The Hired Guns and to produce a multimedia "Carousel of E-Failure" exhibit for the 12/20/2000 Pink Slips Party, a popular New York event for downsized, outsourced, and just plain fired dotcom workers.

This collection of 136 JPEG images documents the home pages of more than 100 failed Internet companies that "gave up the ghost" in the latter half of 2000. The exhibit also includes rare screen recordings made of classic Web sites that died earlier, such as Pathfinder, YPN, iGuide, Stim, Total New York, and many other Golden Moldies.

The "Carousel of E-Failure" is, to my knowledge, the single largest repository of dead Web site screen capture files in existence. My hope is to upload parts of this 255 MB collection to this Web site sometime in 2000 - so please stay tuned!

Thanks again to all of you who advised me that I should use to produce future Ghost Sites products. I hope to resurrect e-commerce on this site sometime in 2001, and will definitely use's services to produce the goods.

Box Opera

Many observers of E-Failure are familiar with the peculiar saga of Josh Harris, who spent millions of dollars funding the ill-fated Pseudo Programs Network, a massive, multimedia-laden ghost site that crashed and burned in the summer of 2000.

What's less well-known about Harris is that throughout the desperate days of Pseudo's summer collapse, he blithely continued to promote Box Opera, an odd project mixing puglisim, conceptual art, and God knows else.

Today, Pseudo is gone and Box Opera is now just another dead Web site advertising an event that's come and gone. Harris, however, isn't gone - in fact, he's lately been seen rigging up his loft with an $11 million array of Web cameras for a project called "We Live in Public", a Jennicam-inspired Web service providing e-voyeurs with a 24 x 7 view of the loft life he shares with Tanya Corrin, a nymphlike, live-in girlfriend.

The cost of this Orwellian experiment has perplexed many of Pseudo's creditors, but Harris has assured the bean counters that they have nothing to worry, because "We Live in Public" is destined someday to be "bigger than CBS".

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Site is Dead, But Well-Preserved

Talk about nasty political fallout., a site last updated when New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani dropped out of his race for State Senator in May of 2000, is still hanging around, long after Hillary Clinton defeated Rick Lazio back in November.

Want to send some soft money to a ghost campaign? Go to the site's Donate Area and send it along. (We're not certain where your funds will go, or why Rudy still needs them, but we're not about to start an argument with him here).

Have an itch to do some belated Hillary-bashing? Surf over to this site's companion site,, whose boastful headline, "Rudy Up Big in Latest Poll", refers to a 4/25/2000 press release from

Yo, Rudy - clean up this mess - both of these moth-ridden sites deserve to become homeless!

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Sites are Dead, But Well-Preserved

WMSV Radio

Frank Lucas writes: "I used to work at the Mississippi State University college radio station, WMSV, as Music Director, and as far as I can tell, its Web site hasn't been updated since 1997.

"Since the station is part of a university Internet system, it will probably sit around forever. This station used to be an interesting alternative to, well, alternative radio in Mississippi when I was the MD there, but now they just play soul-sucking Top 40 crap.

"What a waste of 14,000 watts. None of those people except the general manager work there anymore. I work as a music promoter and I dropped them from my lists months ago."

NOTE: Shortly after release of this issue, we received the following email from markbyrn: "The Ghostsite article on WMSV radio all wet, and the website is far from dead. The correct link for WMSV is listed below, and you can listen live. The format is not the "soul-sucking Top 40 crap", but rather according to the website, "In January of 1999, WMSV became WORLD CLASS RADIO. The decision to change the identifying logo of our station was due to the all encompasing nature of the new slogan. WMSV airs such a variety of World Class music, that the new moniker seemed only fitting. The decision to make the music format of WMSV an Alternative/AAA blend really an easy one to make once we did a little research." Listen for yourself, but in the meantime you should correct your article."

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Site is Stuffed, Embalmed, and Ready for Internet Museum

Notes War

John Griffen writes: "I saw someone else submitted their own old site, so I figured it couldn't hurt to do the same...

"This was a writing project a friend and I started on our high school (1984) BBS and revived on the 'net in 1993. It's kind of a serial super-hero game of telephone, where whoever wants to write the next chapter can. My co-editor got really into his freelance writing and I got into my documentary work and we alienated most of our writers by trying to freeze out super-heroes in favor of what we thought were more serious characters. Now, after seeing films like "Mystery Men" and "The Specials", I realize what we had then was just fine.

"Anyway, our old Web site is still up on a server I gave up 3.5 years ago and I don't think I could update or change the site, even if I wanted to. Despite my not giving Deltanet a dime since May of 1997, they haven't cleared out my Web site. Anyway, someday we hope to restart the project if we ever get the time.

"Meanwhile, maybe some Ghost Sites readers will enjoy the ephemeral adventures of Juan Kawashima, Failed Writer or Beth Dialla, the Goth Spice Girl. Or the Variable Jesus."

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Site is Dead, But Well-Preserved

Investor Warren Buffet is looking very smart these days, mainly because he did something almost inconceivable in the go-go, bubble-worshiping world of Wall Street: he admitted he "knew nothing" about Internet stocks, and was unwilling to invest in anything about which he was completely ignorant. As a result, Buffet wound up virtually unscathed by the Great Web Wipeout that destroyed almost $2 Trillion in investments.

Which brings us to this Web site. was apparently launched as a subscription-based site that would let Web users take a peek into Buffet's master portfolio (which in the case of tech stocks, would be entirely empty). For reasons unknown, BuffetWatch stumbled sometime before its June 1, 1997 launch date.

The result is a ghost site that never seems to have signed up a single paying customer, which proves that Buffet was right - the Internet really is a pretty crummy place to run a business.

Thanks to Chris Stamper for this tip.

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Site is Dead, But Well-Preserved

The Paris WebMuseum

Remember the early graphical incarnation of Mozilla, Netscape's somewhat loveable reptilian mascot? It's very much in evidence among the ancient pages of the Paris WebMuseum, a site whose "What's New" Page hasn't been updated since June of 1996.

This quaint site speaks volumes about the Web's early days, when a clean, fast-loading page, a couple of image thumbnails, and a plain-white page were enough to make any site look "cutting edge".

Thanks to Eamason for this tip.

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Site is Stuffed, Embalmed, and Ready for Internet Museum

The Monkey Hut

This site is an old (and ugly) piece of business that seems to have died more than three years ago.

Users clicking on "The Burning Man Photo Gallery - SPECIAL!" will receive a page covering the 1995 Burning Man Festival; clicking on "The Summer Games Journal - SPECIAL!" yields a page recounting the adventures of Alex Bennett at the 1996 Atlanta Games. Other editorial features date from no later than 1996.

We know very little about why this odd digital artifact was constructed, or why it failed. We can only say that it appears to be the only one of its kind - a fact we're grateful for.

Thanks to cludewilkens for bringing this messy pile of debris to our attention.

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Site is Stuffed, Embalmed, and Ready for Internet Museum

The Sun Microsystems Style Guide

Alan Levine writes: "I hate it when Multi-Billion dollar companies cannot even leave a message or a redirect when they rip down a well-linked site... with almost 4,000 links to it (as reported by Altavista, which only indexes 40% of the Web)."

What Levine is talking about here is the fact that Sun's Style Guide was removed from Sun's servers without any warning from Sun's administrators, breaking thousands of otherwise sound links. In early October, Levine was sufficiently angered to send this terse e-mail to Sun:

"As a web site designer for more than 7 years, I think it is pretty bad that a major corporation like Sun would just delete a Web style guide whose URL has been widely published. The least you could have done is to provide an explanation or redirect page. The problem is made worse because you have removed an extremely valuable resource."

On October 12, Levine received the following reply from Sun:

"The former Style Guide was outdated and has been removed from our server. While a new version is being written, please refer to Jakob Nielsen's 'Writing for the Web.',, and his Web Usability site: We also have many resources on the Sun Marketing Resource Center that may interest you at"

Thank you, J. Akerstrom, Web Team, Sun Microsystems, Inc.

Levine forwarded Sun's reply on to Rick Levine, the Style Guide's author and co-author of "Cluetrain", a popular business book. Levine added:

"For quite some time I have been sending folks to the Web Style guide you wrote for Sun, a widely published URL (Google searches prove links to it are rampant) that resided at

I poked around Sun's site for a good chunk of time without finding a trace of it. I filled out a comment form 3 weeks ago and have gotten a response above (they completely missed my point about bad Web links being a disservice and instead referred me to sites I already know about)

I would think that a huge gazzillion dollar company like Sun could do a better job of at least leaving a note, a forwarding link, even a simple URL re-direction, something that is a trivial task for myself with a web staff of 1.5 (and I am 1). At this point, I am planning to nominate Sun as a Ghost Site (see:

Just thought you might want to know how your former employer is off the cluetrain ..."

Finally, on October 30, Alan Levine received a response from Rick Levine:

"I forwarded your note to the VP who owns all the external Web sites for Sun. I've been poking them for the last few weeks, and hopefully they'll reinstate (the Style Guide)"

The story ends there - maybe the Sun Style Guide will come back, maybe not. At publication date, at least 4,000 dead links continue to point to the gutted Style Guide area, and no UNIX God at Sun has lifted a finger to fix them.

Caveat Browser!

Site is Missing in Action


You're on the web a lot. You've seen many a dead site. You've forgotten our email address... and you don't feel like coming back here to get it.

What do you do?

(javascript required)

The Ghost-o-Meter opens a small, movable window... if you've found a Ghost Site, fill in the blanks, fire it off, and go back to foolin' around. Its that easy.

You can also use this form:

What the ??!

Well, this is all very interesting, but what the heck is Ghost Sites anyway? Why devote a live site to Dead Sites?

If you're interested in this Ghost Sites thing, it is a project that I began in the summer of 1996 while I was working for Time-Warner's Pathfinder. Late in the evening of July 4th, while piloting a small craft across Long Island Sound, I had what only can be described as an epiphany.

From out of the depths came a cruel vision of the World Wide Web. It wasn't a friendly place - an innocent place of community, commerce and chat. It was a great and utterly pitiless electronic ocean that swallowed up sites, careers, and venture capital like a ravenous killer whale. Great sites - sites like Mecklerweb and iGuide - were going down with all hands. Great fortunes were collapsing and proud content sites lay wrecked on the bottom. No one seemed to care. The future was a vast abyss - who would record these days of New Media folly, disaster and despair?

Back on shore, but still haunted by this vision, I launched Ghost Sites as a modest attempt to document the great disappearing fleet of web sites sinking beneath the waves. This project briefly made me spectacularly famous, and then I was quickly, and completely forgotten.

By March of 1997, Ghost Sites had succumbed to the same deadly entropy that had settled over the Internet, and became a crewless wreck itself. For six cruel months, it drifted like a despised garbage barge, broke its keel in a summer squall, and finally washed up on Geocities.

On an icy November morning, Morbus boarded the wreck, inspected the damage, and offered the captain a safe harbor. The bilge pump was started, and the squealing, rusty hull lifted off the sands again. It soon arrived here - in the dark, unquiet waters of Disobey.Com.

If you want to see the article that made me briefly famous, check out Ghosts in the Machine. I became so famous because of this article that there were women lining up to see me - I felt like Elvis! But then... the fall from grace...

If you have a favorite rotting site that you'd like to mention, email me at

Ghost Sites has appeared in a number of places including Time Magazine, ZDNet, The Netly News and more. For a list of all those we know of, as well as links to online counterparts, click here. You can also take a look at the limited edition t-shirt we once offered.

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