Michael J. Radwin

Tales of a software engineer who keeps kosher and hates the web.


Home pages are dead. Yahoo! GeoCities should re-invent itself as a blog site. Fresh content is better than stale content, and blog authors have an incentive to keep their blogs up-to-date.

(Note: the views expressed here are my own, and not those of my employer.)

Home pages are dead. Yahoo! GeoCities should re-invent itself as a blog site.

Creating your own website (traditional homepage or blog) is, for most folks, an exercise in vanity and self-indulgence. “I’m John Smith, and here’s my kewl website! Aren’t I special and unique?”

Part of what makes publishing appealing is the fact that someone might be reading what you’re writing. It’s like getting to act in your very own 6th-grade play — people are watching you and they care what you say! (Or, at least we web authors are duped into thinking that someone cares.)

When homepages first became a big thing in 1996-1997, people created these multimedia atrocities. There are tons of GeoCities sites that are nothing more than a collection of blinking GIFs that they found somewhere else.

My guess is that folks eventually realized that compiling a bunch of images that you stole from other people’s sites doesn’t make for a very compelling reason to visit a website. And since most of us aren’t artists, it’s too difficult to create our own images. For an amateur, putting together a professional-looking website is no easy task. So many of these websites have gone stale.

Enter blogs in 2001-2002. Instead of being graphics- and design-heavy, they are text-heavy. This makes sense, because everyone knows how to write. (Well, everyone who is literate knows how to write.) And everyone knows what’s going on in their own life, too. So making an online journal suddenly doesn’t seem so difficult. And you’ve got incentive to keep it up-to-date, because you’ve got all of those loyal fans who are waiting for the latest installment of your very-exciting life! To extend my 6th-grade play analogy, it’s like performing in that play every single day!

Adding blogs to Geocities has significant costs. Aside from having to develop a whole bunch of new software, they’ll have more customers using GeoCities’ resources. Constantly changing content and archiving means more disk space and more pageviews because people are reading that content more frequently. Of course, GeoCities really would need to provide RSS feeds (this is de rigueur in the blogging world) and these feeds will be polled by robots, which will increase server load even more. So Geocities might need to beef up its resources to handle the increased demand from customers. And then there’s the whole customer support issue…

Even so, a blog service would be a win for Yahoo! in the long run. Feeling some compulsion to keep your blog up-to-date is sorta like email — it’s very “sticky”. That means increased customer loyalty, which is always a good thing in the business world (even if it costs you some money).