MapQuest and other internet zombies

The ’90s internet dream is still very much alive, if you look at the right angle.

More than 17 million Americans regularly use MapQuest, one of the number one digital map sites long overtaken by Google and Apple, according to data from research firm Comscore. Internet portal Go.com was closed from the dotcom era 20 years ago, but its ghost still exists in “Go” Part of web addresses for some Disney sites.

Ask Jeeves, a web search engine that started before Google, still has fans and people typing “Ask Jeeves a question” in Google searches.

You may mock AOL, but it’s still the 50th most popular in the US, according to numbers from a similar site. The virtual world of the early 2000s Second Life never went away and it is now Get a second life As a primary brand of Metaverse.

Some stars have stayed online for much longer than we expected, showing that it is possible to create a life online long after stardom has faded.

“These are almost brands,” said Ben Schott, a brand and advertising columnist for Bloomberg Opinion. “It’s small enough and flexible enough that it can’t be killed.”

The comparison may not be with the falling errors It seems to be a compliment. But there is something heartening about the pioneers who shaped the internet early on, lost their hegemony and dominance, and eventually made a niche. They will never be as popular or powerful as they were a generation ago, but rotten online brands may have a fruitful purpose.

These brands have been able to survive through a combination of inertia, nostalgia, the fact that they have produced a product that people love, digital money-making prowess and shabby internet antics. If today’s internet powers like Facebook and Pinterest lose their relevance as well, it could last for decades.

System1, which owns MapQuest and HowStuffWorks among other websites, has a strategy to attract people to its suite of digital properties through ad offerings or other technologies, convert them into loyal users and earn money from their clicks or other sales. It’s not far from the web’s strategy in the early 2000s to turn “eyeballs” into profits.

Michael Blind, CEO and co-founder of System1, said his company has spent money on internet advertising to attract people to MapQuest as well as improving its mapping functionality. One feature has been added since System1 Bought MapQuest from Verizon In 2019, it allows delivery companies to plot long paths with many stops.

Blend said nostalgia for Gen X or online marketing might convince people to try MapQuest once or twice, but the company wanted to make the site useful enough that they keep coming back regularly. He also said that more than half of the people who use MapQuest are young enough that they may have never known it in its prime.

Blend is proud that MapQuest has been around for as long as it has been. “There are a lot of brands on the internet that have come and gone that you never hear about again,” he told me.

I don’t have a good explanation for the resilience of some characteristics of the Internet in the 1990s. People search for Ask Jeeves though its owner, Internet group IAC/InterActiveCorp, He gave up the name English Butler in 2005 And the Stop trying to compete with Google search over a decade ago. The site now called Ask.com is mostly an aggregation of entertainment and celebrity news.

A spokesperson for Disney, which owned the Go.com online portal, had no solid explanation for why some of the company’s websites still had fingerprints. (Years ago onions Make fun of Disney for this.) In general, today’s websites are often built on top of old internet relics like a modern mansion erected on the grounds of a 19th century house.

Schott mentioned something I can’t get out of my head. He said that when a once-loved restaurant chain or industrial factory shuts down, the usual public reaction is grief for what people have lost. But Schott said that when Internet properties like Yahoo and Myspace decline or die, it’s often dismissed as a joke.

“There is a strange sense of schadenfreude when tech companies fail I don’t think it happens to other industries,” he said. “I’m not sure what that is about.”

Perhaps this is starting to change. When Microsoft discontinued the 27-year-old web browser Internet Explorer this month, pour out nostalgia. As the Internet ages—and so do those of us who remember its early years—the more we feel an emotional stir of what came before.


  • China’s eyes on its citizens: that Investigation From the New York Times I found that the surveillance by the Chinese authorities is more extensive than previously understood. Police want facial recognition cameras where people eat, shop, and even in private places like apartment buildings and hotels. Authorities are buying equipment to build large-scale databases for scanning iris and DNA. The goal, my colleagues have stated, is “to maximize what the state can discover about a person’s identity, activities, and social relationships, which may ultimately help the government maintain its authoritarian rule.”

    Watch the video investigation here.

  • Complaints about baits and switches: small business owners Say That Google got them addicted to free personalized company email and other workplace software, and now they’re asking for payment in a process they’ve found bogged down. “It struck me as unnecessarily petty,” one business owner told my colleague Nico Grant.

  • Other car companies have the envy of Tesla: Well-established car manufacturers like Ford They want to sell more of their cars directly to online buyers, as does Tesla. One problem: Laws in many states require that cars be sold through dealerships, Paul Steenquist wrote for The Times.

Say hello to Puppies in a cart.


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