Ghosts of the Internet



There’s stuff like Pictures For Sad Children, where its author destroyed their own work and replaced it with a video of clouds, but most of the time it’s not really a conscious decision: ‘oh, I’ll post the next bit soon,’ they say, and then they just… never do. I’ve been guilty of this myself, of course. It’s inaction, or loss of interest, that leads to most of the ghosts floating around out there.

And then there’s corporate laziness. For example: look at geocities, a half-forgotten treasure-trove of late-90s World Wide Web history – or, rather, don’t: it doesn’t exist any more. Nobody used it, so the parent company eventually shut it down. I, myself, had a shit Final Fantasy 9 fanpage. All gone. Like tears in rain. (For a feel of what it was like, little ones, have a look at the Space Jam web-page. Frames! That background! Oh, what a world of wonders we’ve lost.)

It’s a perversion of mine to dive into the archives of a blog or a webforum – it’s like spelunking, but without the need to physically move this fleshy husk of a body off the sofa. I can’t be the only person who likes this. I can’t be the only person who loves reading mad ramblings about time travel or mad ramblings about a time travel TV show – weird, dead little corners of the net. I trawl through it and think: what happened to you? What made you stop making this thing?

I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: “Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed:
And on the pedestal these words appear:
‘My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!’
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.”

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