MapQuest and other Internet Zombies

The Internet dream of the 1990s is still alive, if you look at it from the right angle.

More than 17 million Americans use MapQuest regularly, one of the first digital mapping sites to be overtaken by Google and Apple, according to research firm Comscore. The dot-com portal shut down 20 years ago, but its ghost in “Go” is part of the URL for some Disney sites.

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

Maybe you mock AOL, but it is still the 50th most popular website in the US, according to figures from SimilarWeb. Virtual world In the early 2000s Second Life never disappeared and now Second Life is a proto-metaverse brand.

Some online stars have been stuck for longer than we expected, showing that it is possible to carve online life long after the asteroid disappears.

“This is almost a roach brand,” said Ben Schott, brand and advertising correspondent for Bloomberg Opinion. “They are small enough and durable enough that they can not be killed.”

Comparison to scurrying insects may not It seems To be a compliment. But there is something thrilling about the pioneers who created the Internet in the early days Lost their coolness and dominance, and eventually carved out. They may not be as popular or as powerful as their predecessors, but disgruntled internet brands may still have useful purposes.

These brands come alive through a combination of inertia, nostalgia, the fact that they have produced popular products, the advancement of digital money creation and the rickety internet genius. If today’s internet powers like Facebook and Pinterest lose relevance, they could stick around for decades.

System1, which owns MapQuest and HowStuffWorks among other sites, has a strategy to draw people to its digital content collection through advertising or other techniques, turning them into loyal users and generating revenue from clicks or other sales. It’s not far from the early 2000s web strategy of turning “eyes” into revenue.

Michael Blend, CEO and co-founder of System1, said his company used the money for online advertising to lure people to MapQuest and also improved the mapping feature. One feature added since System1 acquired MapQuest from Verizon in 2019 has helped carriers plan multiple long-distance routes.

Blend said Gen X nostalgia or online marketing may persuade people to try MapQuest once or twice, but the company wants to make the site useful enough that they continue to return to normal. He also said that more than half of people who use MapQuest are young enough that they may not be aware of it in modern times.

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

I do not have a good explanation for the resilience of some internet properties in the 1990s. People are looking for Ask Jeeves even though its owner, Internet company IAC / InterActiveCorp, abandoned the English butler name in 2005 and stopped trying to compete with Google search more than a decade ago. The site now called is mostly a compilation of entertainment and celebrity news.

A Disney spokesperson, who once owned the portal, has not given a firm explanation as to why some of the company’s Internet sites still have Go fingerprints. (Onions many years ago mocked Disney for this.) In general, today’s websites are often built on top of the old internet, such as modern buildings built on the basis of 19th-century houses.

Schott mentioned something I could not get out of my head. He says when a restaurant or an industrial plant closes, it reacts The common denominator is grief for what people have lost. But Schott says that when Internet assets like Yahoo and Myspace sag or die, it is often dismissed as a joke.

“There is a strange schadenfreude that technology companies fail that I do not think will happen to other industries,” he said. “I’m not sure what that is.”

Maybe it started to change. When Microsoft stopped using the 27-year-old Internet Explorer browser this month, the thought flowed. In the age of the internet – and we who remember the early years of it – we too may experience a stimulus of feeling for things that came before.

  • China’s Attitudes Towards Its Citizens: An investigation by the New York Times has found that the Chinese authorities’ surveillance is wider than understood. Previously. Police need cameras to recognize where people eat and shop, and even in private places such as residential buildings and hotels. Authorities are procuring equipment to create a large database of iris and DNA scans. The goal, my colleagues report, is to “expand what the state can discover about the identity, activities and social integration of individuals, which can help the government maintain authoritarian rule.”

    Watch the investigation video here.

  • Complaints about bait and switch: Small business owners say Google has stuck them with free custom email from the company and other workplace software and is now demanding payment for the processes they encounter by hand. “It gives me unnecessary tenderness,” one business owner told my colleague Nico Grant.

  • Other car companies are jealous of Tesla: Established auto manufacturers like Ford want to sell their cars directly to online shoppers, as Tesla does. Issue One: Laws in many states require car sales through dealers, Paul Stenquist writes for The Times.


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