The Web is constantly evolving. You can see these changes occurring gradually by charting how your favorite websites alter in look, feel, and even focus over the course of several years. Or you can plug a domain into the Wayback Machine and see the different stages of evolution in an instant. Either way, the Web is constantly evolving.
This is obviously a good thing in many ways. You only need to take a look at the manner in which HTML5 is adding to the usability of the Web to get a feel for the positives. However, it also means we lose websites and Web services we love, as it’s truly a case of survival of the fittest.
This is a roundabout way of introducing the results of last week’s We Ask You column, in which we discussed websites which have tragically died an untimely death. Or, as is the case with Google Reader, been mercilessly killed by its creator.
We asked you, Which Dead Website Do You Miss The Most? We had a healthy number of responses to this query, with dozens of you taking part in the discussion by letting us know which websites you miss the most, why you miss them, and/or what you have replaced them with.
Google Reader and iGoogle (due to die on Nov. 1, 2013) were mentioned, which feeds into the concrete view that Google kills too many of its services regardless of the opinions of its userbase. Thankfully we’ve suggested alternatives to Google Reader, and alternatives to iGoogle too. In other words, we’ve got your back.
Several legally-questionable websites were mentioned, notably the long-defunct Napster (in its original guise), the controversial Megaupload, FileSonic, BTJunkie, and Demonoid. All of these have been associated with piracy in one form or another. But we know piracy will never die, regardless of how many individual websites are culled.
The website that gained the most mentions was GeoCities, a service which, at its height, hosted 38 million webpages on every topic you could name. It was then bought by Yahoo, changed beyond all recognition, and eventually shut down (everywhere but in Japan) in 2009.
Comment Of The Week
We had great input from the likes of Xoandre, mango wodzak, and RAnn, to name just a few. Comment Of The Week goes to Tad C, who, as well as the respect of myself and hopefully everybody reading this, receives a T-shirt for this comment:
I’m going to have to go with Wakoopa (Social). I thought it was so cool that it was able to track every minute of software and website usage, tallying it up to see what I was wasting the most time on and compare that to other users. To replace this aspect I guess I could say that WhatPulse is an alternative, though I’ve been using it for a long time before Wakoopa and its features are very limited (and the recent addition of the paywall is off-putting). You could make lists of favorite programs (which was easy when you looked at your list of programs and your time spent on them) and this was not only useful for organization of your own thoughts but for helping others discover new programs as well (alternativeTo is sort of an alternative to this aspect today, but it’s nowhere near where Wakoopa was).
Another extremely useful aspect was how extensive its software database was – you could search random processes and other programs running on your computer to find out if it was malicious, what program it was affiliated with, etc. and I don’t think I ever ran into a process that Wakoopa didn’t know about; now the only alternatives left for looking up processes are shady websites with “cleanup tools” and whatnot which give completely cryptic information about the process/program which isn’t helpful at all. On top of this was the suggestions on program/website pages which would tell you other, similar alternatives to check out (a lot of the programs I currently use are from these suggestions).
So overall Wakoopa hasn’t really been replaced, instead I have a very fragmented collection of programs that attempt to, together, do the things that Wakoopa did so well.
A close second would’ve been Voyurls, which was a lot like Wakoopa but specifically tracked only websites you visited, but it wasn’t around long enough for me to get attached to it. Currently I’m using Lumi.do which has the same basic premise of learning about your interests through your browsing habits.
A common theme with the websites I miss is obviously tracking, I love it. Especially recently people have been extremely uptight about privacy and security, but I’m the complete opposite and love the idea of openly sharing information about myself through my browsing habits (and reaping the rewards through suggestions, as a bonus).
We found this comment particularly interesting for several reasons. Firstly, it gives a detailed account of one website and a passionate riposte over its death. Secondly, it details a couple of alternatives that between them offer a replacement of sorts. Thirdly, it reminds us that websites which some of us would avoid like the plague (in this case due to privacy concerns) have an audience out there, albeit a niche one.
We will be asking a new question tomorrow, so please join us then. We Ask You is a weekly column dedicated to finding out the opinions of MakeUseOf readers. We ask you a question and you tell us what you think. The question is open-ended and is usually open to debate. Some questions will be purely opinion-based, while others will see you sharing tips and advice, or advocating tools and apps to the MakeUseOf readership. This column is nothing without your input, all of which is valued.
Image Credit: Rupert Ganzer