(My first masthead, created 3/7/1996)
TWENTY YEARS ON THE WORLD WIDE WEB
by Jonah Begone
It has now been twenty years since I first unveiled JonahWorld! onto an unsuspecting World Wide Web public. The claims that I made in my ten year article about being one of the earliest web sites out there now has more force, ten years on. Geocities - this site’s first home - is gone. So are many of the other gnarly old “Create Your Own Page on the World Wide Web” sites of those heady early days. My son’s moribund 1999 high school Angelfire site was finally pulled down after more than a decade. They’re taking out the trash!
And yet, JonahWorld! survives.
True, I don’t update it as much as I used to. There’s a good reason for that: I quit reenacting in 2013 and sold all my gear in 2015. It’s no longer an interest. My heyday in the reenacting hobby was 1983-1991. But history still interests me, and so I’ll do the occasional update of the oddball thing catching my eye.
Is JonahWorld! the oldest continually-updated web site on the Internet? That’s a hard question to answer, but I suspect it’s one of them. After all, twenty years is a long, long time in computer technology. Google that question and this website turns up. Note that the “ancient” sites it lists date to 1997, 1999, 2000… JonahWorld! is older than those. Here’s another article; note how many 1996 websites it lists. But the attraction of these sites for the author is that they’ve never been updated to better HTML. Well… I can say that, too, kind of. My HTML skills being very rudimentary, I have never bothered with the bells and whistles. With the exception of a late 2012 update to make the pages display more readably on wide screen monitors (the earlier ones were more square-shaped), this page is essentially a product of 1990’s technology and HTML practice. It shall stay that way!
I tried looking up "Oldest continuously-maintained website on the World Wide Web" in the famous Guinness Book of World Records, but there is no such entry. (Is it yahoo.com, perhaps?)
The biggest challenge since 2006, when I last congratulated myself, has been the rise of mobile devices. They’re a pain! Making a page an optimal fit for any number of different “faces” (cell phones, tablets, palmtops) is beyond my ken. My advice is, if you want to read JonahWorld!, use a laptop or a desktop!
In my tenth year anniversary piece I wrote, “To date, I have posted 575 articles and images to this site. It takes about 30 MB of space, which doesn’t seem like a lot, nowadays, unless you set out to write 30 MB of text. (Try it sometime!)” As I type this I am presently finishing up the text for a book I wrote about Burbank, California, my hometown. The publisher wanted between 40,000 and 45,000 words. The effort took me six months. It resulted in a Word document of just under 200 KB! So… there’s a lot of text here.
Here’s some fun: the people at archive.org are (or were) on a mad quest to archive all of the Internet! Back on January 16, 1999 they did a snapshot of the then nearly three year old JonahWorld! Here it was at http://www.geocities/SoHo/1422 in all its primitive 1990’s HTML glory. Not much different than today, which is my point. I just keep adding content.
…which is what I’ll do for the next ten years. I wonder how long this will go on…