Saturday, April 28, 2007

Pre-Google Nostalgia

This fall marks the tenth anniversary of the registering of the domain name "" It has been about five years since Google has taken over as the prominent search engine, to the point where the word has taken on the verb form.

In hindsight, it's really amazing how long it took for someone to come along with a decent search engine. Yahoo had the dominant market share thanks to their Aristotelian approach of building a massive hierarchy of categorizations, which proved to be both impressive and ineffectual at the same time. Meanwhile, pretty much every other search engine categorized results by the number of occurrences of search terms. This resulted in a large numbers of worthless hits. I remember once searching for "Tommy James" the 1960s rocker, and one of the top hits being a kid's geocities page. Then along came Dogpile and "meta" engines, which guaranteed more mediocrity per mouse click. Ah, let's not forget, which promised (falsely) to answer real queries in natural languages.

The pre-google era could be compared to trying to drive across America without a decent map. The bad news is that you never know where you are going, but the good news is that you never know where you are going. The sheer randomness made web surfing an adventure. A Webcrawler search on "chess strategies" could lead to a page about Canadian Geese habitats that never would have otherwise been uncovered. Because of the ineffectiveness of search engines, people pursued other methods of websurfing. Webrings were popular. My favorite strategy was to type random things into the URL box. Nowadays, I don't think anyone does this regularly. Particularly since cybersquatters claimed most domains, there is less chance you will land on anything of interest. (Ironic, then, that their own greediness undercut the demand for particular domain names).

Just as a throwback to old days, I decided to enter in random URLs to see what happens. I decided to start with numbers. Starting with "0" and working up, the first working site I found was, which was a squatter. However, was weird. A California company called "Trimble Mobile Solutions" which specializes in GPS technology, has the domain. You have to be a Trimble customer to use the site (unauthorized use is prohibited). Why they would use the domain is a mystery, but the kind of cool mystery that you used to run across in the old days. I think I'll e-mail them and ask about it. I'll let you know if I get a response. is enough to make you think the good old days never went away. The page links to, which links to, through which I lost five minutes of my life, and undoubtedly would have lost more had I not been on the current mission. is non-Nike tennis shoe with the number 23 on it. is a South African start-up page. is incredibly bizarre. It is the resume of a dude from Arkansas (I e-mailed him to see what is up with that). is a commercial site for muscle pain wraps.

Moving on to searching for random words, I quickly became frustrated. Most are taken by squatters or are boring commercial sites. The only thing of marginal interest I found was, which has an incredible amount of information about pigs.

After all that, I suppose I'll have to do a spyware search to de-contaminate my computer. The Internet just ain't what it used to be.


Blogger Enjoy_Every_Sandwich said...

Go on google, type in "[your name] needs" and see what comes up! HOURS of fun, i swear to god.

i was looking over my old blog posts and it said, "i made a snowman" and i looked at the date. october 23rd.

3:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

azor i dont need you to send the blogs anymore to me because class is over, so u can take me off the list.

4:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hey azor i justed posted the comment above, my name is brandon stallings in case you needed to know that in order to stop sending me the blogs.

4:02 PM  

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