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.

August 13, 2008

New Mediapost Article: Social Media: Its More Than Facebook

Social Media: Its More Than FacebookI've written a new article on Social Media for Mediapost; please check it out. My thesis is that far too many marketers get hung up on trying to reach people in Facebook, Myspace, etc., when they should be focusing on reaching people where the real action is: on product-focused bulletin boards and forum areas.

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July 11, 2008 Goes Dark Goes Dark was a startup that attempted to meld social networking with file sharing. Unfortunately, as recounted in an article on Techcrunch, several severe technical glitches in the past month resulted in the deletion of half of the files users uploaded there. was the last iteration in a series of projects going by other names, including MediaMax and Streamload: it is not known how much VC money was spent attempting to get TheLinkUp off the ground, but there will be plenty of hardware to dig through if and when we see a liquidation sale in San Diego.

The site is still live but expected to go dark by August 8, 2008. In the meantime, you can see in its heyday courtesy of the following YouTube video providing instructions for its use.

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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 03, 2008

You Can Own a Genuine Piece of Web 1.0 History

A screenshot from's distressed auction sale, January 2008
If you're in Chicago next week, you're well-positioned to own a genuine piece of Web 1.0 history, because the assets of, a Web 1.0-based, teen-oriented social networking site will be sold at auction.

Like latter-day social networks such as and, Bolt moved quickly from its user-generated grass roots to a commercial site with major brand sponsors eager to relentlessly target Bolt's young, male audience. Because a sizeable percentage of this demographic think nothing of stealing copyrighted material, in 2006 the site was targeted for massive copyright violations by Universal Music and folded in August of 2007.

The lesson from Bolt's demise is clear: those who live by the teen may well die by the teen. In fact, I'd say that there's at least a 50-50 chance that we'll be poring over the auction by 2011 (after all, about half of the images on are stolen; all that's needed is a few strategic lawsuits). In the meantime, enjoy the pickings at the auction.

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December 06, 2007's Failure Signals Social Networking Shakeout Ahead

The social networking shakeout officially began this week with the announcement that, a property developed by BlueLithium and acquired by Yahoo, will be shutting down on January 7, 2008. surfaced in late 2005 as a "next generation social network" whose purpose was to "extend one's nightlife online." Its founders were social butterflies and sought to make the glue that would link the people they met in clubs with online people who might be likely to frequent the same places. It is not clear whether the project ever had a clear business model or was just a neat toy for the founders to play with. may be a casualty of Yahoo CEO Jerry Yang's 100-day effort to reel in Yahoo's sprawling mix of properties, which do not function cohesively and badly need rationalization.

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November 08, 2007

Farewell to Facebook!

Farewell to Facebook
I've enjoyed my time on over the past year or so, but have decided to depart, because I don't want advertising injected in any conversations I might have on the site. I've contributed my time and shared some of my intellectual property to Facebook, and it seemed to me a fair trade for whatever bandwidth I've eaten up and whatever services I've used. But I am tired of being shadowed by marketers who don't show their faces and I will not allow advertising to pollute my friendships in the form of product endorsements I have no control over.

I am not a walking billboard. If you want to be my friend, send me e-mail and we'll take it from there.

Facebook Account Deactivation Screen

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September 26, 2007

In Memory Of The Original

As you probably know, I'm not a big fan of, at least the form of MySpace which functions today as a free-for-all for pedophiles, bottom-feeding marketers and confused teenagers. I only have a MySpace account because part of my job is knowing a little about how corporations with big bucks are trying to exploit users of social networking sites.

But wasn't always like this. In fact, up until 2000, the original provided a highly useful file-sharing service. Unfortunately, it wasn't economically feasible to do this, and the site closed and was replaced by the monster we all know and hate today. The screen shot above is from the Museum of I-Failure; I wonder how many current MySpace users know its origins as a failed file repository?

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July 25, 2007 is an Attractive Nuisance That Should Be Shut Down is an Attractive Nuisance That Should Be Shut Down
How many convicted sex predators are on Nobody knows. First refused to divulge this number, then in May, when pressured by the Attorneys General of two states, it said there were 7,000. Now it admits that there are 29,000. The word on the street is that there may be several hundred thousand active predators on that's a couple of football stadiums' worth. After all, the ones that were identified made the mistake of typing in their correct names into's registration forms, which allowed this data to be cross-checked against lists maintained by the government. Sophisticated sexual predators know how to cover their tracks and can easily disguise who they really are when signing up for

Rupert Murdoch's News Corp, which owns, cannot ensure the safety of the millions of kids on MySpace, despite the repeated utterances of Hemanshu Nigam, its security officer, that "parents need to be part of any answer." This is corporate malfeasance on an epic scale. It's like running a gigantic swimming pool without any life guards or protective railings, and waiting for kids to fall in and drown: the very definition of an "attractive nuisance" whose active maintenance imposes liability on the owner or operator.

When tragedies happen, the swimming pool owner has no defense by claiming that "I was working on a fence," or "I would have sooner or later drained the pool." is an attractive nuisance that should be shut down until such means are devised to protect its many underage participants from sexual predators. Then and only then should it be returned to service.

That's the way the real world works and that's the way it should work in cyberspace. The fact that a company such as News Corp is massively profiting from maintaining this dangerous environment is a crime in itself.

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