MapQuest and Other Web Zombies

The dream of the internet of the 1990s is still alive, if you look at the right angles.

More than 17 million Americans regularly use MapQuest, one of the first digital mapping sites that was previously acquired by Google and Apple, according to data from research firm Comscore. The website was deleted 20 years ago, but its ghost continues to live in “Go” which is part of some of Disney’s web sites.

Ask Jeeves, the Google search engine that started before Google, still has fans and people who write “Ask Jeeves’ query” on Google search.

You may be mocking AOL, but it is still the 50th most popular website in the United States, according to statistics from SimilarWeb. In the early 2000s the online world of Second Life did not end and now has a second life as a proto-metaverse edition.

Some old online celebrities have been stuck for longer than we expected, indicating that it is possible to continue living online long after the popularity faded.

“These are about bugs,” said Ben Schott, a Bloomberg Opinion journalist and broadcaster. “They are young enough and capable enough that they cannot be killed.”

Comparisons with flying beetles may not be appearance be a compliment. But there is something encouraging about the founders who created the early network, lost their stability and control, and eventually carved a niche. They will never be as popular or powerful as they were in the previous generation, but inappropriate internet brands can still have useful purposes.

These brands have managed to survive through a combination of poor conditions, nostalgia, the fact that they have produced products that people love, digital marketing skills and the odds of a bad network. If today’s internet powers like Facebook and Pinterest lose their relevance, too, they can last for decades.

System1, which owns MapQuest and HowStuffWorks among other websites, has a strategy to attract people to its collection of digital features through advertising fields or other methods, turn them into loyal users and earn money from their clicks or other sales. It is not far from the early 2000s web strategy to turn “eyeballs” into revenue.

Michael Blend, chief executive officer and co-founder of System1, said his company spent money on online advertising to attract people to MapQuest and also to improve its mapping operations. One feature added since System1 purchased MapQuest from Verizon in 2019 allows shippers to plan long routes with multiple stations.

Blend said that Gen X nostalgia or online marketing could persuade people to try MapQuest once or twice, but the company wanted to make the site important enough for them to keep coming back regularly. He also said that more than half of the people who use MapQuest are young enough that they probably never knew it in his day.

Blend is proud that MapQuest has been stuck for as long as it has. “There are so many internet brands that have come and gone and you never hear from them again,” he told me.

I do not have a good description of the strengths of some of the features of the Internet in the 1990s. People are looking for Ask Jeeves even though its owner, the Internet company IAC / InterActiveCorp, gave up an English host name in 2005 and stopped trying to compete with Google search. over a decade ago. The site now called is a collection of entertainment news and celebrities.

A Disney spokesman, which owned the website, did not have a clear explanation as to why some of the company’s websites still have Go fingerprints. (Onion years ago mocked Disney for this.) In general, today’s websites are often built on the remains of an old network like a mansion built on the foundation of a 19th-century house.

Schott mentioned something I could not get out of my head. He said that when a chain of popular restaurants or an industrial factory closes, the general public response is sadness at what people have lost. But Schott said that when the characteristics of a network like Yahoo and Myspace are diminished or dead, they are often overlooked as a joke.

“There is a strange schadenfreude when technology companies fail which I don’t think happens to other industries,” he said. “I’m not sure what that means.”

Maybe that is starting to change. When Microsoft cleaned up its 27-year-old Internet Explorer web browser this month, nostalgia spilled over. As the age of the internet gets older – as well as we remember its early years – so can we feel emotionally excited about what happened in the past.

  • China’s eyes on its citizens: An investigation from The New York Times found that Chinese authorities’ surveillance is much higher than previously thought. Police are looking for recognizable facial cameras where people eat and shop and even in private places such as residential buildings and hotels. Authorities are purchasing equipment to build large database of iris and DNA tests. The goal, my colleagues reported, is “to increase what the government can know about a person’s identity, activities and social relationships, which can ultimately help the government maintain its authoritarian rule.”

    Watch the video survey here.

  • Complaints about bait and switch: Owners of small businesses say that Google attracted them to special corporate emails for free with other workplace apps and now needs payment in the process they got by hand. “It touched me like a very small thing,” one business owner told co-worker Nico Grant.

  • Some car companies are jealous of Tesla: Car manufacturers like Ford want to sell their cars more directly to online buyers, as Tesla does. One problem: Legislation in many states requires cars to be sold through retailers, Paul Stenquist writes for The Times.

Give him a greeting PUPI IN A rolling cart.

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