Bruce’s Home Page. Part I. “Malaysia’s Bill Gates”
Bruce’s Home Page. Part II. Calvin and Hobbes
Bruce’s home page was the first screenshot published on the One Terabyte of Kilobyte Age Photo Op tumblr blog. Of course that doesn’t mean this is the first page ever made on GeoCities, or even the oldest one in the archive. There are 3 dimensions of time at work here:
- The inception date, when a user first claimed an address on GeoCities and filled out a template or published some files. The best approximation for this time is the earliest last-modified date found on a file in a user’s directory.
- The last modified, when a user stopped updating their GeoCities project. The most effective approximation for this is the last-modified date of the home page, since most users would announce any change to sub pages on their home page. That’s also why these were selected to be screenshotted and made public.
- The posting date, when the screenshot of a home page is appearing on tumblr. Only home pages are posted, in chronological order, according to their abandonment date.
The later a page’s last modified date, the longer the difference to the inception date can potentially be, and the more research is required to understand if content and design of a particular page are tied to the page’s last-modified date or if the page is even older. (More on the complexities of interpreting the last-modified date will be addressed in the upcoming essay “Generation Update”.)
In relation to Bruce’s page this means that there are other pages which were claimed earlier and hence are older, but since they have been updated by their users for longer and where abandoned later, they will also appear much later on the tumblr blog. As I am writing this, pages abandoned in March 2006 appear on tumblr, yet they might have been established many years before.
Let’s forget for a moment the metadata that’s available, and rely only on researchers’ eyes and ears. How can we guess a website’s age? How could we guess Bruce’s Home Page age?