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.

December 24, 2007 To Go Dark Jan 1, 2008 To Go Dark Jan 1, 2008, which for 12 years provided a vigorous Web-based companion site to the CourtTV network, will close on January 1, 2008, victim of a rebranding by Time Warner, the network's new owner, that will morph CourtTV into the more reality-themed "truTV."

A farewell note from's Editor in Chief Jim Lyons provides a good summary of's milestones. His note suggests that the site will remain "in frozen form" for the benefit of future historians of crime, media, and culture.

Among the more interesting revelations in Lyons' note is the somewhat ghoulish revelation that the site's photo gallery of the last words of condemned Death Row inmates was one of its most popular features.

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November 05, 2007

Thanks to the Wall Street Journal For Linking to Ghost Sites' "Pathfinder Museum."

Thanks to Wall Street Journal reporter Jason Fry, who cites the Pathfinder Museum in a thoughtful article discussing how much the Web has changed since 1995, when corporate "top-down thinking" ruled the Web and it was possible to survive by merely "listening to voices inside one's own building."

It's nice to know that Time-Warner's epic disaster hasn't been completely forgotten.

We -- the despised diaspora of former Pathfinder/Time Inc. employees - salute those who cannot forget (for more on Pathfinder, please visit The Pathfinder Museum)!

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June 19, 2007

Yahoo Could Have Been a Contender

Everybody in tech is talking about the fact that Yahoo's Terry Semel is stepping down, what it means for Yahoo, what it means for Google, yadayadayada.

Let's get to the point. Yahoo tried to be all things to all people. It pimped its pages to whoever would pay the most for cluttering them up. In its prime, it collected almost a half a million dollars a day from anybody who wanted to rent its big billboard of a home page. Instead of devoting themselves to their users, they sold out to the big brand guys with boxcars full of cash. The result was a confused, tacked together melange of services, some good, others not. You can see this content bloat graphically in a direct comparison of Yahoo's home pages with Google's.

Yahoo is the Pathfinder of the new millenium. Terry Semel came from Time-Warner, and like the people who ran Pathfinder, completely misinterpreted the nature of the Web revolution, where documents, not navigational eddies such as portals or other artificial structures, rule, and people have the freedom to "unstick" themselves from even the stickiest portal at the drop of a hat.

Yahoo has 12,000 employees and at least 100 Vice Presidents. I don't know what these people do all day but they're certainly not working on Yahoo's technology. Its management spent tons of money on elaborate offline marketing, including movie ads, big billboards, and other foolishness. It kept its traffic pumped up through acquisitions, but never really gave anybody a compelling reason to use Yahoo.

This is all sad because Yahoo used to be a damned good site. It was the first site to have a kick-ass news area, a great financial area, and a directory which, back when search engines were really crappy, was really useful. But like many dotcom failures, Yahoo overinvested in marketing, bean counters, and sales people, and let both its directory and its technology moulder away. This is classic Web 1.0 cluelessness, and while I don't think Yahoo will die tomorrow, it's day is past.

I can't imagine Yahoo pulling itself out of its mess without a major restructuring, which is a nice way of saying mass layoffs. You don't need 12,000 people to run a website.

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