Updated September 9, 2021 (see below)

I’m spending the last hours of 2017 organizing and categorizing pages last updated in the end of 2001. It’s the time when Harry Potter fanfic starts to get illustrated with stills from the film, not pictures from the book; when N’Sync fandom gets more vibrant than Backstreet Boys fandom; when you see a bit more of cat web sites than one year before, but still more dog lovers are out there; when GeoCities users call Yahoo! names for suspending their sites for too much traffic.

However, these are just side notes. The most striking content from 2001 is websites that were made or modified in reaction to September 11. Up until today I looked at 97 of them, and there will be more sad, angry, devastated, patriotic, conspiracy pages appearing in the coming months.

Below is a compilation of 50 screenshots that catch the first days and weeks after the tragedy, and reveal verbal and visual narratives emerging around it. (Click images to show full screenshots.)

(September 9, 2021)

This update comes on the eve of the 20th anniversary of 9/11. Forty four screenshots of pages made as a tribute to the victims of the terrorist attack, or related to the event in other ways: collections of photographs and documents, investigations, conspiracy theories, Osama Bin Laden hate pages, … – are entering the collection. Currently 222 pages are tagged with “911” in the One Terabyte of Kilobyte Age archive, but not all of them make sense as 800×600 screenshots. I also didn’t include ones that just feature a small 9/11 related element, like an in memory ribbon or a banner.


Two further remarks.

Being half way through the archive, i.e. seeing 200,000 GeoCities web pages updated in between 1995 and 2004, I can say that there were only two IRL events1 that made a substatial amount of web masters change the main topic of their web sites or to make new, specialized ones — the Death of Princess Diana and 9/11. The latter is more massive and present in the archive.

Another observation is that over time images, graphic elements and layouts that were made for mourning and to manifest national and international unity against terrorism became core elements of “proud to be American” pages and patriotic templates. It happened pretty fast, and was evident already in 2002.


  1. …apart from reactions to online affairs, like the change of Yahoo’s Terms of Service and removal of FTP access for GeoCities users []

One Response to 9/11 and Vernacular Web

  • # Winsor 2018-01-01 01:04

    Just discovered this blog and accompanying Tumblr. As someone who dearly misses web 1.0, this is exactly what I’ve been looking for. Please keep it up. This is awesome, thank you.


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