For those who came in late, Geocities is/was one of the first free webhosting services on the Internet. Geocities was bought by Yahoo in 1999. In the recent past, Yahoo decided to close Geocities down (effective tomorrow), offering existing users the option to use a paid Yahoo service to host their sites. Archive.org is also working on archiving the old sites, but they are relying on users to submit their sites which will cause some to fall through the cracks.
Which is OK, I guess. These sites make for interesting historical evidence of where the web once was - the tools available, the styles, the sounds. In the archaeology of the multi-layered stratum of digital earth that forms the Internet, Geocities was an important layer. Web rings. A conspicuous absence of gradients. Animated gifs of fires. Midi files. The 256 colour palette. Blue underlined links. Halcyon days.
It's a shame that Yahoo is closing these sites down, but it's their prerogative and they aren't making any money off of the existing Geocities sites, many of which probably aren't even being updated any more. And it is about making money, right? Some of these sites are linked to or bookmarked, and after tomorrow they essentially become an ad for Yahoo via the web being peppered with thousands of additional 'Pages not found' linking to Yahoo and containing massive ads. It's also sad that a huge part of the Internet's collective history will be gone. You may not notice it right away, but you will be notice.
Vale Geocities, VALE.
Roy Orbison - In Dreams (.mid version) [4.6MB .mp3 file]
(Original .mid file found on a Geocities site).