I (No Longer) Have a Web Site: Access, Authenticity, and the Restoration of GeoCities

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"I Have a Website." JPEG version of screenshot from One Terabyte of Kilobyte Age Photo Op.

One year ago, a system developed by artists Olia Lialina and Dragan Espenschied began taking screenshots of now-defunct GeoCities webpages from the late 1990s as they would appear on hardware and software from that time. Every twenty minutes, a new screenshot is automatically uploaded to their Tumblr, One Terabyte of Kilobyte Age Photo Op. Friday marked the one-year anniversary of the project; to celebrate, Espenschied restored the three most reblogged and liked home pages posted there, as tracked by Lialina. This article covers the why and how of this restoration.

It may seem strange to say this about the likes of "Cute Boy Site" or "Divorced Dads Page," but the remains of the GeoCities web hosting service are a vital part of our cultural legacy. In its dial-up heyday, GeoCities was where non-specialist internet users made their first-ever webpages. Today, it exists as a vast, if partial, repository of the anxieties, hopes, and dreams of those creators, and offers a snapshot of the early popular usage of a now-ubiquitous cultural form, the webpage.

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Dragan Espenschied to Lead Rhizome's Digital Conservation Program

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After an international search, leading digital preservation specialist, artist, and musician Dragan Espenschied has been appointed to lead Rhizome's growing and award-winning Digital Conservation program. Espenschied, who will relocate from Germany to New York for the position, will bring the program to its next phase and steward the ArtBase, Rhizome’s collection of over 2,000 born-digital artworks. 

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Video of 'Born Digital' Now Online

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Video of this weekend's panel discussion, Born Digital: Conservation in the Computer Age, is now online, featuring computer arts pioneer Lillian Schwartz, and digital humanities scholars Matthew Kirschenbaum and Lori Emerson, with Ben Fino-Radin chairing. Some highlights: Lillian's opening remarks at 28:00, Lori discussing Ralph Ellison's use of an enormous portable Osborne 1 computer in his writing of Juneteenth (54:21), and Matthew sharing slides of his summer vacation to an underground nitrate film vault.

At 1:05:53, Ben also recounts one of the heroic moments of the recent XFR STN media conservation project: the recovery of artwork by Phil Sanders from an obsolete 10 Megabyte hard drive. It was a Herculean effort, ultimately successful thanks to computer historian Jason Scott's knowledge of the Apple II system and Doron Ben-Avraham's understanding of magnetism.

Enjoy!

 

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