MapQuest and other Internet Zombies

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

According to research firm Comscore, more than 17 million Americans regularly use MapQuest, one of the first digital mapping websites to overtake Google and Apple. Dot-com-era internet portal Go.com closed 20 years ago, but its ghost lives on “Go”, which is part of the web addresses of some Disney sites.

Ask Jeeves, the web search engine launched by Google, still has fans and people typing “Jeeves a question” into Google search.

You might make fun of AOL, but it’s still the 50th most popular website in the US, according to SimilarWeb. The virtual world Second Life never disappeared in the early 2000s and now takes on a second life as a proto-meta-brand.

Some once-online stars have stood longer than we might have expected, which has shown that it is possible to expose life on the internet long after the stars disappear.

“These are almost cockroach brands,” said Ben Shot, a Bloomberg Opinion brand and advertising reviewer. “They are small enough and durable enough that they cannot be killed.”

Comparisons with fuss errors may not be It seems Be a compliment. But there is something heartbreaking about the pioneers who created the early Internet, lost their composure and dominance, and finally made their way to the niche. They will never be as popular and powerful as they were a generation ago, but dirty internet brands may still have a fruitful purpose.

These brands have been able to survive the inertia, the nostalgia, for the fact that they have created a product that people like, the ability to make digital money, and the weirdness of the internet. If today’s internet powers like Facebook and Pinterest also lose relevance, they could remain for decades.

System1, which owns MapQuest and HowStuffWorks, among other websites, has a strategy to attract people to its digital property collection through ads or other techniques, to turn them into loyal users, and to make money from their clicks or other sales. This is not far from the web strategy of the early 2000s, which turned the “eye nut” into income.

Michael Blend, CEO and co-founder of System1, said his company has spent money on online advertising to bring people to MapQuest and has also improved its mapping features. One feature added since System1 was acquired by MapQuest from Verizon in 2019, allowing delivery couriers to plan long routes with multiple stops.

Blend said Gen X nostalgia or online marketing could persuade people to try MapQuest once or twice, but the company wanted the site to be useful enough to get them back on a regular basis. He also said that more than half of the people who use MapQuest are young enough that they may never have known it during its heyday.

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

I do not have much explanation for the durability of some Internet property in the 1990s. People are looking for Ask Jeeves, even though its owner, Internet conglomerate IAC / InterActiveCorp, rejected the English Butler name in 2005 and stopped competing with Google Search more than a decade ago. The website now called Ask.com is basically a collection of entertainment and news from celebrities.

A Disney spokesperson who owned the Go.com internet portal did not have a solid explanation as to why some of the company’s Internet sites still have Go fingerprints. (Oion laughed at Disney years ago because of this.) Generally, today’s websites are often built on the remnants of the old Internet, like a modern mansion built on the foundation of a 19th century house.

Shot mentioned something I can not avoid. He says when a once-favorite restaurant chain or industrial plant closes, a typical public reaction is grief over what people have lost. But Shot said that when Internet features like Yahoo and Myspace are down or dying, it is often considered a joke.

“It’s a weird scapegoat when tech companies fail, which I don’t think will happen in other industries,” he said. “I’m not sure what we’re talking about.”

Maybe it starts to change. When Microsoft released its 27-year-old Internet Explorer web browser this month, nostalgia burst. The older the Internet – as well as those of us who remember its early years – the more we can feel the excitement of emotions because of what it was before.


  • China’s eye on its citizens: An investigation by The New York Times has found that surveillance by the Chinese authorities is more widespread than previously known. Police want facial recognition cameras where people eat and shop and even in private places like apartment buildings and hotels. The government is buying equipment to create iris scans and large-scale DNA databases. My colleagues say the goal is to “maximize what the state can understand about an individual’s identity, activities, and social ties that will ultimately help the government maintain authoritarian rule.”

    Watch the video investigation here.

  • Complaints about bait and change: Small business owners say Google has chained them to the company’s free personalized email and other workplace software and is now demanding payment for the process they discovered. “It seemed like a pointless trifle,” one business owner told my colleague Nico Grant.

  • Other car companies are jealous of Tesla: Established automakers like Ford want to sell more of their cars directly to buyers online, as Tesla does. One problem: In many states, the law requires cars to be sold to dealers, writes Paul Stenkvist for The Times.

.Hello Puppies in a moving stroller.


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