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.

November 19, 2003

This Site is Suspended: The Motion Picture

Site Suspension notices, which are generated by a given Ghost Site's hosting company, generally aren't much more interesting than the robotic "Page Not Found" messages generated by one's browser.

While some show a bit of flair, or some elegant Euro-Style, most of them are so forbiddingly spartan, or at least so generic that they fritter away the expressive possiblities available to the ISPs that create them.

I suppose that one can actually judge a lot about the quality - or at least the graphical sensibilities - of a given ISP by studying them. But knowing how angry that ISP's get a deadbeat site owners, it's not surprising that most of them choose sombre, somewhat humiliating messages to express their umbrage.

Today I happened to be surfing by a Web-based bulletin board frequented by owners of small ISPs (Internet Service Providers) and noticed that one of them is now supplying a free Macromedia Flash application that conveys, in rather dynamic terms, the fact that the site owner's account (and therefore his or her web site) has been suspended.


Kind of cool, eh? Well, believe it or not, this small masterpiece has been getting mixed reviews from the ISP community. Muses one: "why waste bandwidth prettying up a site that hasn't paid their bills?" - a fair question to ask. But others agree that something like this beats a notice that says what ISPs are actually thinking, i.e. "This site's owner is a deadbeat and has not paid this months hosting fees. Therefore unil it is paid plus late fees... Eat Dust!"

I like this movie and have watched it several times (you can tell that I don't have much of a life, can't you?). It's appropriately dark, abstract, and forbidding in the way that the intros to the best noire films are. My only criticism is that it might have contained a soundtrack with the sound of "whooshing" (that sucking sound that you hear between your ears when you realize your Web project is dying), some cheesily dissonant MIDI music, or perhaps the ominous sound of a creaking, closing door. Even the jangling of coins could have dressed it up a bit, but perhaps silence was deliberately chosen by its author to save a spot of bandwidth or set the tone of mute horror that's wholly appropriate to the situation.

Let's hope that this anonymously crafted Flash application is the first in a line of many customized Site Suspension online films. I doubt this will happen (ISP administrators aren't exactly an artsy crowd), but perhaps one or two of them will begin deploying something more interesting than the typically unimaginative "This Site Suspended" screens that look so banal to those who stumble upon them.

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