It’s hard to believe, but at one point, Geocities was the third most visited website in the world (behind AOL and Yahoo!) before meeting its demise in 2009. Consisting of 38 million pages, everyday people built these personal sites on their desktop PCs long before the rise of blogging platforms or social networks.
The results were, in a word, crude. But as Cameron’s World demonstrates, they possessed–like any good trend–elements that are now equal parts charming and embarrassing. Curated by Cameron Askin and coded by Anthony Hughes, the site is an all-out visual ode to the Geocities sites of yore. Like an excavation of the past, the site design layers strata of Geocities trends for you to scroll through, unearthing memories as you go.
Amazingly, each segment is defined by a color. The site starts with space iconography (black), working its way down through the sexy fantasies of the celestial realm (purple), dolphin-loaded oceans (blue), medieval granite castles (grey), to several levels of hard-to-describe but perfect weirdness, all the way to the bottom, a devil and fire-filled hell.
I was surprised by how many of the old standards and practices of the web I’d already forgotten about–omnipresent star backgrounds, lists of links to sites that people just found cool, clever “hello” and “email me” GIFs, and–of course–the bajillion ways to convey a site is Under Construction. Because back in the ’90s, everyone’s personal site was always under construction. (Thanks to beta release culture, every product released by Fortune 500 companies today is tacitly understood to be constantly “under construction,” with bugs promised to be fixed in the next release.)
But overall, Cameron’s World leaves us with a gorgeously articulated vision of a bygone digital era. And for all of us who spent hours working on our Geocities pages, surfing around Geocities web rings, this* is what we have left: One very tacky website, lovingly assembled by a few artists.
*Okay, technically Geocities is still live in Japan, but it’s just not the same.