Serve It Chilled

Yahoo! quickly became the most popular search engine on the web.

By search engine, I mean the generic term of any service that helps you locate information, rather than the more technical one of a service that locates information by “crawling” pages automatically and allowing you to keyword search to find any pages that match your keywords.

The distinction is important, because it lead to Yahoo’s eventual downturn as a search resource and directly to the coming closure of the Yahoo! Directory that was announced today.

A “directoryrelies on humans to review websites, summarise them with short descriptions and organize them into a categories.

When Yahoo! started, this system was effective, because there weren’t that many pages on the web (relatively speaking) and automated search technology to organise websites wasn’t very good.

We are hearing today the sad news: Yahoo!Directory, an initiative built twenty years ago, closes it doors forever. Yahoo! Directory was the first service that Yahoo! offered. It is closing today, after twenty years of service.

Some random toughs and a short collection of memories that you may find of use,  come to my mind. 

Look, I still hold a personal email account, the one I solicited in the year 1996. My first email account, before then, was with Netscape Inc. A sadly missed one.

From those two email accounts, years ago, This yours truly started a life into a whole new world: Subscriptions, search engines, lots -- if not tons -- of websites, of stories, of protocols which offered me and you a kind of an invisible invitation to be and take part of the Internet.

Technique and approaches used in the Middle Age

Those were the days when we build webpages in a similar manner as you build  today cool webpages using, for example, AngularJS .

Not every browser supported then Javascript.

Clients wanted to track their benefits and cookies were not allowed in the banking ecosphere. Just to mention one.

Design was cool. To code for the web was cool.  Actionscript was new and cooler too. It was an hybrid between Javascript and Perl, embedded in the Macromedia Flash. virtual machine. Like Docker. WithActionScript,  we were good and capable to ...Well, to build animated GIFs.

Optimised, small-sized and unsharpen bitmaps of information.

No PNGs allowed. Just GIFs. That was really an advance!. Imagine: 28kpb/s.

Okay, nothing was ideal neither perfect, then.

 In those early days, some huge companies built their entire sites using only tables, links and images ( remember that Adobe ImageReady's ability to File > Save For Web & Devices?) . Click and go, click and buy. IFrames. Image Maps.

Then was when  indie agencies took over the role. The web development market. Cyberpunks.

We are humans using machines. A tool is just a tool for our purposes. You need a perfectly hand-crafted website. The one that would let you be indexed in a human controlled search directory. We were aware of the fragile ecosystem the web was then. Optimized pages for slow connections and also to prevent a saturation of the web- servers around. We had a conscience that nothing was free, and that the Energy was a simple transformation of Energy itself. So we used and discriminated the information served carefully. Servers crashed.

Hand-crafted websites where more than a simple template modified. Hand-crafted websites were your real business, built with web standards or with sophisticate plugins in a digital manner. Hand-crafted websites and clean code are information structured, clean code and meta names were a real necessity for you and for the humans who were behind collecting data and serve the web using the services a Directory offers. A service that helps you locate information.

Human beings then, were enough smart to classify, to discriminate, to interpret and to write correctly the meta descriptions or meta keywords that would flavoured your web content. Are you real a human?. Welcome. No captcha's needed. A naïve world.  Web Standards were here to stay.

And it is very difficult nearly impossible -- believe me -- to understand the philosophy behind the Web Standards or its real meaning, if you never relied upon the experience that a real human being is working behind a directory of re-collected websites.

We -- people from the web -- a.k.a. designers, coders, hypercard afficionados, marketers, software-makers, sysadmins et al didn't know neither meet us one each other in person. We were living in different continents all over the world.
Couple of  us had then names figuring cats or pets as identity. Hey, inno456Bett, how d'ydo?.

It was like a huge IRC Channel disco party were everybody was invited.

Always accepting the common rules of a not written nettiquete.

And far away that personal and mutual acknowledgement between us, we helped us mutually as colleagues do. Really.

It was in that scenario the urgent  need to work with the simple finality to help and to serve on each other, being the other that person or this company which wanted a website and needed to be found in the World Wide Web.

We were there to avoid that your website was rejected from a directory for not accomplishing it needs. For you, to be found and read and to be known worldwide, directories were huge and cool.

Directories are, still, cool.

Mr. Danny Sullivan offers a complete explanation and a short story come, of this sad news and of the beginnings of the search engines as we knew it, here.

A highly recommended read for you, my dearest newbie, to understand the digital web world we are living in. Your turn.
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