June 8, 1999

by Steve Baldwin

There was much wailing and tribulation in Ghost Sites' musty research room when, two weeks ago, Pathfinder's URL was finally redirected to TIME.COM. The great site had finally disappeared beneath the waves, entombing within it one of the Net's last great unexplored repositories of Hopelessly Obsolete Content. The Pathfinder Museum, however, still offers a glimpse of many reliquary objects left behind by The Lost Web Pioneers.

The wailing continued when, for the first time in Ghost Sites history, we missed our May issue - this omission representing yet another commentary on our miserable state of overwork, URL sloth, and FTP lag. But with the NetSlaves project winding its way to completion this month, perhaps more normalcy will prevail. I also apologize for the laggardly movement of information concerning remaining T-shirts -- (we've got a lot of XL shirts left, folks, but not much else).

Anyway, getting back to the carnage: we were saddened to learn that Adam Curry's MetaVerse site, which sojourned on for at least three years without a single update from Adam, has finally been turned off and redirected elsewhere.

We blame ourselves for this tragedy - one readers speculates that traffic from Ghost Sites lit up all kinds of alarm bells at MetaVerse's ISP, and a Barbarian System Administrator removed the Curry archives from the Web in a pique of rage.


iFusion was a "push pioneer" which flamed out in the general conflagration of the so-called "Push" industry a few years back. The original site is gone with the wind, but an extraordinary remnant at iFusion.Com serves as a timeless memorial to all the people who built iFusion's doomed ArrIve product.

At this ironically-flavored site, which proudly announces "The Internet Ate Us for Dinner", one can study a ghostly gallery of former iFusion workers, who evidently worked very hard to bring their product to market. It's impossible to tell when these extraordinarily poignant photographs were taken, but it appears that nobody in these pictures had any inkling of the grim future that lay ahead.

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Site is Stuffed, Embalmed, and Ready for Internet Museum

Strip Tease

Get ready for your own "personal peek at the wild world of STRIPTEASE - a new film from Castle Rock Entertainment opening in theaters June 28, 1996."

As Sarah Mason notes, the site is "all messed up". Bad links abound, along with advisories to "use Netscape 2.0". The site's postcards don't work, nor does the "sad little game" that Mason tried to play on the site.

I'm not a big Demi Moore fan, but realize that StripTease has begun to enjoy considerable cult status as one of the worst movies ever made. News of this dead site's persistence -- 3 years is a long time to survive in today's update-happy publishing environment -- will only add to the film's strangely growing allure.

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Site is Dead, Shows Advanced Decay


If you've dug through the Ghost Sites archives, you know that American Cybercast's infamous Spot site is still alive, although it hasn't been updated in years. But the Great Soap Opera Craze of 1996-97 produced many other small, speculative episodic content projects that are equally ancient, and many are still scattered around the Web in a state of suspended animation.

MelrosEast is an obscure Ghost Soap that's been lying in state since July of 1997. It evidently published 27 episodes of drama that recounted the lives of 20-something Long Island people as they hopped from mall to bedroom to beach house, but didn't save any of its episodes online.

A few fragments of MelrosEast's episodes remain, and they're so laden with the cartoonish pop culture elements which loom in the characters' lives that the drama seems curiously dated, and makes the world of 1997 seem like some faraway time (did people really have personal coaches in the 1990's? Did they really listen to Van Halen when they did their nails?)

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Site is Stuffed, Embalmed, and Ready for Internet Museum

World Guide to Vegetarianism

David Smead makes an excellent observation when he reported this site as being "moldy". As Smead notes, "not only has the site not been updated since February 1996, but there's a note at www.veg.org/veg/People/contrib.html promising a major redesign "that should bear fruit in August/1998." Now, that's old!

Smead also makes note of the fact that this site still points to Point.Com's "Top 5% Award" program - a standard mark of the bitrotten Web site.

I'm sure that many of the restaurants listed in this guide are still going concerns. But if you really want to use this site to plan a Vegetarian Trip, call ahead to see if the restaurant still exists.

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Site is Stuffed, Embalmed, and Ready for Internet Musum

Oh, The Humanity

This wonderful guide to "the worst movies ever made" stopped updating itself in August of 1998, and it's really too bad. Bad Movies, like Bad Web Sites, are endlessly fascinating conversational subjects, and watching enough of them might even be a little-known cure for depression.

Oh, The Humanity had a lot going for it - a wicked attitude, a nice smirky look, user-submitted reviews, voting, and even links from each Bad Movie review to a place where users could buy, rent, or further investigate each of these celluloid turkeys on demand.

Perhaps this site will stage a comeback sometime soon - Bad Movies, after all, aren't an endangered species. But good ideas for Web content sites aren't easy to come by.

Thanks to Mori for sending this URL in to us.

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Site is Stuffed, Embalmed, and Ready for Internet Musum

The Brotherhood of the CPU

Here's another original content site we hope gets back on its feet. The Brotherhood of the CPU has only been dead since February, so there's still a lot of valuable content here for CPU gear-heads, but things are starting to drift out of date, and a few broken links are starting to creep into its elegant, resource-frugal design.

We hope that The Brotherhood's main author, Luis Felipe de Melo Moura, catches up on his thoughtful reviews, discussions, and comparative evaluations of today's bewildering array of Intel and non-Intel CPUs.


Site is Calling in Sick


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?

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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 Steve_Baldwin@hotmail.com.

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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