A Trespass of Swine

the Porkopolis blog

Considerations of humanity and hogritude, because an insufficiency of pigs is one of the great faults of all that the gods have made manifest to man.

Geocities Closes

Whilst we are hogs, let us at least be well-fed, healthy, reciprocally useful hogs, instead of – well, instead of the sort we are at present.

George Bernard Shaw. The Impossibilities of Anarchism, (1891).

geocities logo

Alas, poor Geocities! I knew it well.

Yahoo is set to close GeoCities on Oct. 26, 2009. The entire site and all its content will be deleted… If you recall Geocities, then you recall: midi loops, the guestbook, animated backgrounds, hit counters, random awards, web rings, <FONT FACE=”COMIC SANS MS”>, vampire, goth and wicca wannabes, “best viewed in… ,” animated @ Email gifs, overly bordered tables, exposed code, cursor trails and ripply-water Java applets.

In 1995 I became a Geocities homesteader. Pigs had been on my mind already for many years. And, because “pig” was probably the first word I typed into the first search engine I ever used, I knew pigs were under represented on the web. I was inspired to do something about that. My mission was clear and the concept of “Porkopolis” was born with its first home address on the web at Geocities:

http://www.geocities.com/TheTropics/Shores/7484/index.html

Geocities in the 90s… It was a simpler and scandalous time for me (*sigh…). I was an amateur with a desire for personal expression through a web presence. Everything web related seemed inexpensive, or even better, free. I could view, copy, cut, and ‘steal’ code or images from most any other web pages that I liked.

Then on-line editing and uploading programs meant I only needed to struggle with the usual dawdling of dialup. Eventually, everything was easily pasted into my pages and claimed as my own. And if I screwed up the coding or couldn’t quite figure it out or couldn’t get it to work … Well, hey, “Please excuse our mess. Good pages are always under construction”…

What fun it was, feeling bold and lawless
and building the societies of a new frontier!

Free hosting sites like Geocities were diverse, complex and crazy. I recall that the sincerest form of flattery – imitation – was everywhere. Many of us thought, “who’s going to catch us and what would they do if the did?”

Other homesteaders just as likely assumed everything was free because it could be so easily copied and because it was “on the internet” after all. Bolder homesteaders did add © to all their pages with requests to “Please don’t steal my code,” even if that was how they originally came by it themselves.

Of course not everyone was as scandalous as I might have been back then. Some homesteaders worked hard to create their sites themselves. I eventually joined the craft builders. I got involved in the Geocities bulletin boards, and other elements of the “community” set up to allow homesteaders to help and advise each other.

site of the day

With Geocities, I was able to experiment with web design, I taught myself HTML and CSS. Eventually, I upgraded my page design and code to one of my own creation and Porkopolis became a platform for creating content about pigs.

“Oh yea, well my Myspace account kicks your Geocities account’s ass.”

Today, a look back at my own Geocities efforts and those of others are just like looking at baby pictures of the internet. Once upon a dot-com bubble, Geocities was the hosting service that seemed to include at least half the personal sites on the web.

In 1999 Geocities was the internet’s third most visited domain. It was a notable early contributor to the democratization of the internet and notable as well for being the spawn of some famously bad web design. Then Yahoo! bought Geocities in 1999. Yahoo! soon got lost in its own further diversifications, and abandon improving Geocities. And as low-cost hosting options proliferated and social network-style services became increasing popular the demise of personal home pages and Geocities itself was assured.

geocities icon

Results 1–10 of about 54,100,330 for “pig”

And now it is 2009. What was once “Porkopolis” at Geocities is now www.Porkopolis.org. I have a different perspective of the frontier. I read and think and study and test (and test and test…) the design and code that create this site.

This is my design, my code. In maintaining Porkopolis.org now, I try to find a pig path that is equidistant between the design I want and the design that follows the content. Porkopolis is different yet the same. It is still a personal expression of a pig predilection.

As for pigs on the internet, I can type “pig” into a search engine and get over

  • 54,000,000 results from Google
  • 59,500,000 results on Bing
  • 7,459,000 results from Ask
  • 59,300,000 results from Clusty
  • 136,000,000 results from Alltheweb
  • 174,000,000 results from Yahoo!
  • 169,000,000 results from AltaVista

That is a pandemonius plethora of pork, but I see that the world still stubbornly resists the coupling of pigs and flight; and I have come to suspect that there are many places on the web where sty and style might just be related.

Traveling the baconian roads of the web today, I see that it remains awful, but wonderful, just like the humans who created it. And about all that I am sure of is that two pigs stuck under a fence make more noise than one pig. Trust me on that, after all, I’m a swineherd…

fish bowl

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A random image of a pig, hog, boar or swine from the collection at Porkopolis.