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.

January 12, 2008

Conde Nast's Flops, Will Be Downgraded to Widget Status was an elaborate social network for girls created by CondeNet, the digital arm of Old Media powerhouse Conde Nast. Its beta launch in late 2006 was for girls only, but it allowed those of the male persuasion in when it officially opened in early 2007. used an attractive scrapbook-like interface for its members to express their thoughts. Reviewers judged its feature set well-executed, and naturally, CondeNast brought out all the big PR guns to promote it, resulting in ample coverage in Old Media outlets such as the Wall Street Journal.

Unfortunately, flopped when it came to attracting enough traffic to justify CondeNet's investment in it. In fact, according to Alexa,'s current rank of 75,513 made it less popular than, the site you're reading now. So it was inevitable that the plug would be pulled, and it was last week, when it was announced that would be downgraded from a Website to a mere application that would parasitically attach itself to and

Flip joins recent social networking casualty (bankrolled by Yahoo) as the latest high-stakes social networking catastrophe. Others will surely follow suit as consolidation in the social networking space continues throughout 2008.

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January 04, 2008 Pays Homage to and the Museum of Interactive Failure

CourtTV's transition screen to TrueTV
Thanks to writer Helen A.S. Popkin for linking to the Museum of Interactive Failure in her lengthy (and very funny) online memorial to, which was published today on I agree with Ms. Popkin that Time-Warner's decision to shut down was "lame" but unfortunately it seems to have no shortage of lameness when it comes to interactive media.

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December 04, 2007

Does Anybody Actually Miss Television?

Both Hollywood/TV Writers and Media Owners Need to Get a ClueRemember TV? That big glowing one-way box that sat in your living room, providing your only window into the world? You still see them once in a while: at pizza parlors, or in airport waiting rooms, but it's an endangered device, and nobody takes it seriously anymore.

I don't own a television. Nor does my daughter, nor do many of the younger people I work with. The magic brand letters NBC, CBS, ABC, and even MTV mean nothing to them. The shows they grew up with have been so mediocre that there isn't even nostalgia for TV the way there was for the older generation, who still fondly recall Star Trek, Mission Impossible and Hawaii-Five-O.

The death dance between writers and network owners entered its first month, with neither side willing to budge. The TV writers remain darlings with newspaper writers (another endangered bunch), and for this reason alone the strike remains in the public eye. But time is on no one's side in this battle, because today's media audience isn't suffering because TV long ago stopped being a "must watch" medium.

Sadly, both the union writers and the network owners are dinosaurs, and it's sad to say them dying this way, so bitter, so hardset in their positions, so unwilling to face the fact that tomorrow's world of entertainment may lack a bargainable compensation model for a long time to come. In this new world, there will only be two kinds of content providers: a tiny group of people who do it for the money, and a much larger group who write their words and produce their works because, as they used to say in the 1980's, they have "something to say and a place to say it."

There is no doubt in my mind that the future belongs to the latter, not the former.

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November 19, 2007

I Was Totally Wrong About "Quarterlife"

I Was Totally Wrong About QuarterlifeWow - was I wrong about Quarterlife, which I predicted back in September would sink without a trace. Instead, it's headed directly for network television, thanks to the writer's strike that is crippling broadcast media. Look for the network guys to be trolling around Youtube looking for more dregs to serve up to the broadcast audience -- you could be next!

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November 06, 2007

Both Hollywood/TV Writers and Media Owners Need to Get a Clue

Both Hollywood/TV Writers and Media Owners Need to Get a ClueA number of people have sent me angry e-mails decrying what they term to be an overly unsympathetic stance re the Hollywood/TV writers who are now on strike. One e-mailer even called me "a running dog for the networks."

Let me be clear: I'm a (non-union) writer by trade and so I'm naturally pro-writer. I frankly don't think much of the professionalized, unionized class of writers who churn out the lowest-common denominator material that passes for entertainment on television, but that doesn't mean that I'm any more sympathetic towards the media owners who employ them. Media owners, who've historically squeezed creative types since the dawn of time, are the lowest of the low, and they deserve every ounce of pain that a sustained writers strike will rain on them.

My point is that both of these classes: media writers and media owners, need to get a clue. The model that underlies the whole structure of entertainment is collapsing, and both classes going down with it. Neither can count on the old model surviving much longer: frankly, I doubt that there will even be a "media industry" in five years. I don't have much hope that media owners will make it through this transition, but writers who stake their creative claim to the emerging new model have a chance, if they can free themselves of their dependence on what I called "the corporate teat" and set out for themselves on line.

The going won't be easy, the money won't be as rich as they're used to, but at least they'll be laying a foundation for their future. They should use this time off to think about what they would do if NBC, CBS, and ABC went away (because they will go away), step up to the online content plate, and start pitching, not to the networks, but directly to the people. It's the only way out of this morass.

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October 23, 2007

Should The Pay Its Bloggers? Not on Your Life!

Should The Pay Its Bloggers? Not on Your Life!As reported in, the AP's Simon Dumenco has been on the warpath for the past several weeks against The for not paying the Bloggers who contribute to the popular liberal site. Dumenco seems particularly miffed by Huffington co-founder Ken Lerer's remark that paying its contributors is "inconsistent with HuffPo's business model."

Frankly, I think this is all a tempest in a teapot. Using volunteers to build a brand by offering them a few crumbs of recognition in exchange for monetizable text IS the business model of the Web. The multi-billion dollar AOL brand could not have been built without the cooperation of legions of unpaid volunteers. Geocities would never have made its founders rich without the cooperation of unpaid, attention-seeking home page authors. One can argue that Google is nothing more than a huge content aggregator that uses the same time-proven model of exchanging visibility for intellectual property.

Nobody holds a gun to the heads of HuffPo's writers forcing them to write for the site. They willingly contribute and reap the benefits downstream on their own sites or elsewhere in their off-line careers. Call this new content exchange model a way-new form of capitalism, or a sinister species of socialism, but it's the way the idea marketplace works and it's not going away.

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August 30, 2007

WebJunk.TV Dies an Annoying Death

WebJunk.TV is one with the ages.
WebJunk.TV was a site supporting the VH1 series of the same name. In a message date-stamped June 15, 2007, WebJunk.TV announced that it is "going away for awhile," and that a new show/site called "WebStars" will take its place. The site has now disappeared completely, yielding a "site not found message." This is actually pretty lousy practice on the part of Viacom: why not keep the old site up and simply redirect it to the new one? I guess Viacom's Web team needs a refresher in SEO 101.

I actually saw the WebJunk show once or twice back in the days when I watched broadcast/cable television (today, I either watch YouTube or don't watch anything). I found the program incredibly annoying to watch, and it appears I'm not alone. Watching a television show about the Web is damned boring, whereas reading a Web site about television shows isn't so bad. Hmm - I wonder why that is?

In defense of WebJunk.TV, it did actually break some news this year by finding the elusive Forgotten Web Celebrity Jennifer Ringley, about whom I've written about on this site. Ringley is evidently employed and living somewhere in California as a Netslave... I mean, as a Web Developer. This is the first bona fide sighting of Ms. Ringley since she abandoned her famed Jennicam in early 2004.

You can watch a clip on IFilm devoted to Jennifer Ringley but again, the WebJunk TV show is so damned irritating that you have a good chance of breaking out in a rash. Only do this if you're still obsessed with Jenni or are a hard-core Internet Historian.

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July 27, 2007

What's Behind Fox News' Attacks on Bloggers?

The video embedded below, assembled by Brave New Films' Robert Greenwald, documents the increasingly vociferous attacks made by Fox News' spokespeople on Bloggers, particularly

I have no connection to DailyKos, other than the fact that I briefly met Markos Moulitsas ZĂșniga at Steve Gilliard's funeral. Nor do I have any desire to discuss politics on Ghost Sites: that's for other sites to take care of, and there are plenty of them, both left and right, which do a fine job of it.

What I will say is that contempt for "the Blogosphere" on the part of the Mainstream Media (AKA "MSM") is nothing new. A high level of hostility bordering on hysteria has been evident among journalists and representatives of analog networks for at least 10 years. The Web -- a truly insurgent, disruptive communications medium -- has been slowly sucking audiences and the ad dollars that follow them from old media for a long time, but it's only in the past year or so that the "pain point" has been reached. This is why these attacks are happening now.

Keep this in mind as you watch yesterday's world-striding pundits froth at the mouth about "hate speech on the Internet." You might love Bill O'Reilly or hate his guts, but you should understand that it's economics, not politics, that is the force driving these attacks and those to come.

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June 28, 2007

Ancient Jackie Chan Pages Haunt

Joel Schlosberg found some ancient, bitrotten pages on the servers of that are true cyber-relics. His words follow:

"Here's one of the oldest and most ghostly book promotion websites I've ever seen: Random House's website for Jackie Chan's autobiography "I Am Jackie Chan: My Life in Action", published in 1998 -- and sure enough (by both internal evidence of datedness and checking the Wayback Machine), the page hasn't been modified much since 1998:

Note first of all that a lot of it consists of book excerpts, so that's not particularly dated. But moving on....

The first thing that sticks out is the color scheme: yellow and white text on a red -- and I mean screamingly bright, fire truck-red -- background. If one looks a bit more carefully, one notices that the graphics are conspicuously dithered GIFs.

There's also an early use of Java to add interactivity: namely, a simple Concentration game where the cards are Jackie Chan in various poses:

But the real gold is the links page:
There's a page of "Jackie Chan Windows 95 Desktop Themes", and best of all, a bunch of webpages! (The URL's are spelled out on the page, making it easier to find such gems.)

And while the vast majority of links are simply broken links, there are a few still-functioning sites that show signs of ghostliness: -- "This page last updated : 8/16/01"

Even better, some of the pages have a banner ad for the original site!"

Thanks, Joel, for pointing out these mouldering pages. They yield a unique view of Web 1.0 aesthetics and sensibilities.

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June 20, 2007

Time Magazine Editor to Staff Writers: Write Online or Go Home

An article on summarizes the earnest efforts of Time Magazine Managing Editor Richard Stengel to induce his reluctant, pre-Web staff of writers to write online, and I got a nostalgic chuckle out of it. Way back when I worked for Time Inc., our division was one of a handful of entities in Time Inc's vast fleet of publications that was serving up content daily on the Web, and we were regarded as low-end-of-the-totem-pole geeks by Time's "real" writers, who wrote their copy at a leisurely pace, went home at 5:00 PM, and got very drunk each Friday when the liquor cart appeared on schedule.

We Web geeks, confined to an area of the Time-Life Building that had recently been vacated by Security, worked 12 hour days, earned less, got less respect, and were ultimately terminated when our division was shut down after it was denigrated by Don Logan as a "black hole."

Good luck, Mr. Stengel: you're going to need it. Writing content for this medium is more like operating a chattering Telex machine in a noisy newsroom than it is composing and endlessly rewriting golden sentences, lovingly massaged to blandness, in a well-carpeted skyscraper. Web writers write dispatches, not polished articles. We write for an invisible, often ungrateful audience. We're used to being dissed by "real writers" and aren't even granted proper press credentials.

We're a tough bunch that writes fast, and while we may not always get it right the first time, we know there are no truckloads of paper to recall when we make a mistake. For us, writing is organic and iterative, not a process that etches words in stone or lead. Some people hate the fact that we can do this, and the tone of your memo suggests that you've got your share of such Luddites working for you right now.

I hope that many of your old guard will adapt to this medium, which was new 10 years ago when I worked for Time Inc., but is now the mainstream. And I hope that those who can't or won't will be thrown out the window, just as we were tossed 10 years ago.

The only difference will be that they'll have Golden Parachutes, whereas we fell the full 37 flights flapping our arms in vain.

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June 12, 2007

Tina Brown, it's Time To Shut Up

It must be terrible to be a former media queen, so terrible that it makes you say terrible things, like "everybody's famous today but nobody's interesting," and think terrible thoughts, like "people in 2007 are still interested in what happened to Princess Diana in 1997." So you write your terrible book, and your terrifying team of agents, publishing flacks, ass-kissers and sycophantic radio hosts treats you as if you were still on top, running The New Yorker into the ground, then frittering in cyberspace, where you launched, a laughably specious dotcom and dead-tree magazine property funded by Miramax and Hearst that was just a glossy reflective mirror for your super media elite friends, including Hillary Clinton.

The whole point of Talk Magazine was clear: it was set up so that you could own the rights to articles that were green-lightable for Hollywood, skimming big profits when they were made into movies. You never took the Web, or the web site seriously, and surviving screenshots prove that was nothing more than a flattering mirror for you and your powerful pals: (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) (8) (9) (10) (11) (12) (13)

When you were done with, you bounced gracefully from a CNBC cable show that nobody watched to a vacuous column at the Washington Post that nobody read.

Tina Brown, you're done and can go home now. America's love for royalty has run out. We're locked in a brutal, endless war, up to our ears in debt, drugged up, burned out, preparing for the next Internet bubble to burst, and Diana isn't even a mote on our collective bloodshot eye anymore. Life isn't a party, nobody outside the media elite gives a damn about you or Diana, but that won't stop you. The usual book industry-style payola will surely keep your latest tome on the top of the bestseller charts.

You had a good run, Tina Brown. But we're not buying the fish you're selling today. I know you hate the Web and the whole idea of free conent. But if you really want to tell us, not sell us something, get over to YouTube and share your thoughts about Diana with us for free. Some of us with a great deal of time on our hands might even watch you and think that trashing a long-dead princess is a worthy project. Just don't ask us for $27.95 to bankroll it.

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June 06, 2007

New York Times Obituary: Steve Gilliard

The New York Times posted an obituary for Steve Gilliard on its Web site; this notice also appeared in the Times' print edition. A few days ago, I suggested that the mainstream media would completely ignore Steve's passing; I am very glad that I was completely wrong about this.

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January 19, 2007

A Bloodbath at Time Inc. and the Ghosts of Pathfinder

If you're in the media world, you know that this has been a grim week for Time Inc., which laid off about 300 people this week, most of them on the editorial side.

As you may know, I worked for Time Inc. when, back in the mid 1990's, it attempted to transition its world-class brands to the Internet. The vechicle for this transition was Pathfinder, a 120-person startup which only lasted a few years before it collapsed, a victim of many forces, not the least of them being continual sabotage by senior management, many members of which saw Pathfinder as a threat. Such managers, whose main interest was in preserving the status quo, destroyed the vehicle that could have taken them out of the danger zone created by the advent of the World Wide Web, and then, a few years later, without realizing their mistake, plunged headlong into a disastrous merger with AOL, mistakenly believing that AOL was their salvation.

I don't know Ann Moore, the executive under whom the layoffs are being conducted. Nor does it really matter who weilds the axe: the fact is that the fat-cutting that Moore is doing now should have happened eight or ten years ago. It was clear in 1995 that the Web was going to force seismic changes in media, that fewer people would be needed to produce electronic magazines, and that other efficiencies would remove the need for so many back-office paper pushers. More than ten years later, the price is being paid, and it is being paid by low to mid-level editorial people, not the executives whose decisions failed to steer Time Inc. away from danger. These executives will either remain, or have long left, with billowing golden parachutes that will keep the wolf away from their doors for the rest of their natural lives.

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January 17, 2007

ReganBooks is Now a Ghost Site

ReganBooks is Now a Ghost Site
This week, HarperCollins scrapped its ReganBooks imprint in the wake of the over-the-top conduct of its former editor, Judith Regan. Consequently, it removed all links to ReganBooks from its main corporate site.

What's left behind is this ghost site. Just about everything is busted or missing, and this page will likely succumb soon as well. So now's the time to take a last, not so fond look at ReganBooks, the fecund source of so much subliterary sleaze.

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September 13, 2006

Remembering Bill Ziff, Jr.

This is off-the beaten track, but I was saddened to learn of the death of William B. Ziff, Jr. I worked at Ziff-Davis from 1991 to 1995, starting at a magazine called PC Sources, and later moving to Computer Shopper and ZDNet. While I arrived at Ziff-Davis too late to get to know Bill, who had pretty much retired from day-to-day operations, the impression which he left on the company was deep and it informed the way we produced our magazines. Bill's philosophy of publishing was very simple: produce quality content that can be trusted by readers, and the advertisers will follow. Violate that trust, and your project will fail.

This simple enjoinder is one which I'm afraid many magazines, websites, and media properties have forgotten today. Fakery seems to be everywhere today, from LonelyGirl15 to James Frey to Jason Blair to "sock puppetry" at the New Republic. Trust between reader and publisher has been fraying for a long time, and it's getting to a point where it's almost impossible to know whether a source can be trusted.

Bill Ziff will surely be missed by those who still think that editorial integrity isn't optional but essential. Let's hope that we learn by his example that one can make a good living, and build a great empire, by doing the right thing, and never letting commercial pressures weaken the sacred bond between publisher and reader.


June 15, 2006

The Washington Post Gets Moldier By the Moment

The Washington Post site conceals a vast graveyard of contentNewspapers are getting killed these days. Budgets are shifting from print to interactive, classified ad sites such as Craigs' List are eating their lunch, and Bloggers, not editors, are becoming daily "must reads," but you're not likely to read the news that newspapers are headed for the graveyard in a newspaper, because, well, these poor blokes just don't get the fact that they've been overtaken by events.

I have a fair amount of respect for The Washington Post - in fact, it's one of only two or three newspapers I read every day on the Web. I also think it's technology sections are pretty good - Washington isn't exactly the center of the IT universe (although it's probably got more money passing through it from IT companies than any other place in the world).

The Post is a good paper that keeps its Website up to date, which makes the discovery of a major blight of ghostly bit rot smack dab in the middle of its Technology Section a major scandal (well, perhaps not a major one, but any bit rot on a newspaper site is a bad thing, because it belies the oft-stated claim that these old media folks have a clue when it comes to interactive media).

Check out the Technology Section's "@Work" ("at work") area, available for inspection at: The lead story in this section "Aiming to Advance?," was written and posted more than 3 years ago. The other articles are even older. No content on this page can by any stretch of the imagination be called "news".

I wonder how many people stumbling across this area are misled into believing that the "news" items on this page are current? It boggles the mind that a big organization like the Washington Post can't keep its areas more up to date than it does, especially when it continues to book ads on these Ghost Pages (note the Intel "skyscraper ad" in the right-hand margin)!

Note: Carrie Johnson is a writer I've had occasional correspondences with and I have no bone to pick with her, in fact, I highly respect her. It's her bosses that I'm calling on the carpet here. They should either prominently label the "@work" section as an "archive of once current content," or otherwise identify it as a no-longer functional area so that people aren't tricked into believing that this material is current.


May 31, 2006 Home of Pop-up Hell

Imagine walking into a quiet graveyard in broad daylight and having all the graves open and the worst spirits you can imagine start grabbing at your legs. This is exactly the feeeling I got when I visited, the last living vestige of what ten years ago proudly called itself "The World's Best Web Site." The domain has served (for at least five years now) as a static pointer to the many world-class content brands maintained by Time Warner. But did you know that almost every one of these brands is now infested with pop-up ads of the sort that would immediately red-flag it as a "dangerous" site in McAfee?

All I can say is unless you love pop-ups, "don't go there!"

To learn more about Pathfinder, visit The Pathfinder Museum.


April 07, 2006

Ghosts in a New York Gossip Columnist's Closet

On the subway this morning, I couldn't help noticing the headline on the cover of the New York Daily News which read "PAGE SIX SHAKEDOWN." The story alleges that a New York Post columnist named Jared Paul Stern attempted to extort $225,000 from a billionaire named Ron Burkle in exchange for favorable, or at least fairly truthful coverage in the Post's well-read Page Six gossip column.

I'm interested in this story, because I think that the New York Post is an institution which is little more than a right-wing propaganda rag that caters to subliterates and encourages subliteracy. I'm also a big fan of the classic film, Sweet Smell of Success, which in my mind is the best film ever made about New York media and says more today than it did when it was released in 1957. If the Daily News story is even 10 percent true, it's plain that Sidney Falco's spirit is still walking Broadway.

But let's move on to my main point, which concerns the Web site maintained by the same Jared Paul Stern embroiled in the Page Six Scandal. His site, located at the URL, is a scandal in its own right: the last update to its main page was in May of 2005, its "News Room" page dates from November of that same year, and its "Guest List" page dates from late 2004. Mr. Stern's "About" page, in which the columnist has written a few almost unreadable commments that in the main demonstrate how highly he regards himself, also contains a stack of links to Stern's works, several of which are broken.

It's not particularly surprising that Mr. Stern's site is broken and bitrotten; after all, many "print" people only maintain presences on the Web grudgingly, viewing this medium with indifference or, in some cases, active contempt. In my view, if one does decide to launch a site, a Blog, a channel, or what have you, one bears responsibility for maintaining this presence, and if one cannot meet this responsibility, one should shut it down.

I cannot know what happened between Mr. Stern, Mr. Burkle, or the editors at the New York Post. But because the poor condition of Mr. Stern's site does not inspire confidence in his abilities to abide by the responsibilities of being a Web-based journalist, one cannot but wonder how seriously he took his job at The New York Post.

One thing's for sure: if J.J. Hunsecker came across a columnist with a Web site in such extreme disrepair, he'd tear him up into little pieces and spit his remains out under the 59th Street Bridge.

Of course, it's also true that Jared Paul Stern's Web site will probably get more traffic in the next few days than it did in all the time it's been on the Web. I wouldn't put it past him to install a bit of Google Adsense code to moneterize this traffic. In a week or two, it might be enough money to fund a legal defense fund.


March 29, 2006

The Wall Street Journal Honors Pathfinder (The World's Greatest Web Site)

The Wall Street Journal ran a piece today which mentioned Pathfinder (the site I used to work for and the subject of Ghost Sites' Pathfinder Museum (The Web's largest online repository of images, text, and other data related to Time-Warner's

The somewhat bland article, by Matthew Karnitschnig, gets it mostly right: despite an early, once-in-a-lifetime chance to dominate Web content, Pathfinder was destroyed by internal dissension, behind-the-scenes sabotage by certain Time Inc. senior executives, and a near-total inability by senior management to see the potential of the World Wide Web.

The article, however, doesn't begin to capture the blood-on-the pavement, sex on the desktop, poison-pen-email-in-the-dead-of-night, industrial-quality alcohol-and Tulenal-fueled reality of life behind the scenes at The World's Greatest Web Site. Nor does it touch upon the smoldering hatred that one felt in the elevators from jealous old-media editors, the incredibly botched software executions, the smashed-up New Media lives whose downward trajectories paralleled the death of the site, Sick Building Syndrome, or Wiccanism, all of which contributed to Pathfinder's demise.

No, none of these things were ever written down. Only the mute objects in The Pathfinder Museum, plus a few tepid lines in a finanacial paper, are all that stand to remind history that Pathfinder, The World's Greatest Web site, was anything more than an apparition.

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October 27, 2005

Rust Never Sleeps at is a vast, sprawling supersite, and it's likely that most people bouncing off links from its home page don't find themselves knee-deep in bitrotten HTML.

Users coming in from search engines, however, won't be so lucky. Take this link to a truly ancient Daily Almanac that seems to have been abandoned in January of 2001:

Here we learn that Fed chairman Alan Greenspan is calling a recession "unlikely" (good job, Alan), President Bush is launching his pre-Gulf War II faith-based initiative, and that the World Economic Forum will soon meet in Davos. Following the link to CNN's Almanac Archive gives us years 1996 through 1998, but nothing from 1999 or 2000 - it's as if those years plunged into a big black hole.

People sometimes criticize me when I go after small Web site operators who let their pages rot, and it's a valid point - these people don't have unlimited time and resources to keep things up to date. But when a big media company like CNN does this, it's a different thing. This company has tons of people, tons of money, and one would think a ton of interest in maintaining a well-trimmed, first-class, up to date site. The only thing that it seems to lack is even a casual interest in following through on its projects. Frankly, this undermaintained area flips a big bird to the entire Web. "You want an updated Almanac?," it says, "well go buy one!"

If big media is too clueless to make the most of its hits, how about taking these pages down, so they won't lure more people into these Ghost areas? Better yet, make a tax-decuctable donation of their neglected, blighted pages to the Web, and we'll run the damned thing. It would be far better PR than letting your own site become a widely-shared joke.


June 20, 2005

New Ghost Sites Acquisition: The Pathfinder Museum

In a private transaction, Ghost Sites of the Web has acquired the collected exhibits and digital artifacts of the Geocities-based Pathfinder Museum for an undisclosed sum. The Pathfinder Museum's venerable collections of digital matter relating to Time-Warner's doomed mega-site, originally launched in early 2000, have been enormously enhanced by the donation of a scrapbook of staff photographs taken in the critical 1996-97 period, when the site was just beginning to disintegrate.

I am very proud to announce that many of The Pathfinder Museum's rare artifacts will be available for public inspection, at no cost, right here on Over the weekend, our skeleton crew has been busy putting up a core of exhibits, and it is my hope that these will soon be augmented by more lost treasures from the bowels of what was once referred to as "the world's best Web site."

Steve Baldwin
Ghost Sites of the Web


May 05, 2005

Ten Years of Pathfinder

From the Internet Scout Report, May 5, 1995. Still available, after all these years, at:

PATHFINDER is a new Web Site created by the Time Warner Group of companies. In Pathfinder you will find samples of Time Warner's products including: Time, Vibe, People, Money, Sports Illustrated, Entertainment Weekly, Time Warner Electronic Publishing, and the Virtual Garden.

This grand project has, of course, been a ghost site for much longer than it was a live site. It lasted only from late 1994 to mid-1998.

But as one former Pathfinder staffer put it in an email to me today, "it's lived longer than Gopher," and I can't think of a better epitaph for the site.


April 12, 2005

Copyright Catch 22 Killed

A Ghost Sites correspondent who goes by the name of Valentine filed this report concerning the life cycle passages of a site called*

Once this was the largest I Dream of Jeannie site on the Internet.

Things were going well. Alas, the Webmaster became a little too overzealous and perhaps alienated most if not all of his viewers by demanding they not take his images (even for personal use) and later, threatening lawsuits against anyone who he suspected was using his material. As the cost of Internet space went up, so did the amount of ad content, to a ridiculous level.

Finally, one morning, the site went down entirely, with a promise that it would be updated in a few weeks. A few weeks went by, then a few months and finally a year.

The site was updated... with a new "soon to be update" page. The Webmaster even set up a livejournal (site) to inform everyone of progress to the site. That LJ has also been abandoned.

It's now been three years. Rest in peace,'s WayBack Machine has several good snapshots of in its prime.

Valentine's report provides a cautionary lesson for Webmasters seeking to defend copyrights in cyberspace. Webmasters often find themselves in a painful bind: if they do nothing to defend a copyrighted image, they run the risk of having this posture perceived as permission. If they do act, they can drive their users away to sites where notions of copyrights are completely absent.

It's a classic lose-lose, "damned if you do, damned if you don't" dilemma, and is not the Copyright Catch 22's first casualty. I have personally witnessed more than one Internet bulletin board that has collapsed when one enterprising member began a well-meaning campaign against mindless cutting-and-pasting.

A righteous defense of copyrights may win the instinctive applause of copyright holders, but those Webmasters who begin such a battle on their own cyber-terrain run a high risk of losing the goodwill of their users. Once this happens, it is very hard to rebuild trust, and ultimately even the copyright holders lose out once users inevitably migrate to more freewheeling fan sites where nobody gives a whit about copyrighted images, sounds, or text.

*(Note: is, as of this writing, still online, but according to a statement on its home page, it is on "hiatus" and evidently has been on such hiatus for some time now. Such a state earns it two "Ghosties", meaning that it is "calling in sick" but not "dead" in familiar Ghost Sites parlance.)


July 29, 2004

Chandra Levy Ghost Pages at

Before 9/11/01 - "the day that America changed forever" - the nation's most obsessive fear concerned powerful male politicians corrupting or snuffing out the lives of defenseless females. This archetype, first instanced with Monica Lewinksy, passed ineluctably onto Chandra Levy, and by the Summer of 2001, America, along with the American Broadcasting Company, was fixated with "flushing the zone" in pursuit of Chandra Levy's killer.

The Chandra Levy matter has yet to be fully resolved, and yet a special page set up at waits faithfully for some resolution. This lonely page was last updated in March of 2002. If the events of 9/11/01 had not inalterably changed the basic shape of America's nightmares, it might have served to more profitably monger fear and voyeurship for a long, satisfying spell, but events overtook it, and today it is just another Ghost Site.

Thanks to Chris Stamper - one of Ghost Sites' most faithful correspondents, for pointing this site out.

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