On Deadword

Deadword‘s homepage reads:

Launched in 1995, Word.com was one of the first-ever online magazines. In an era when the word “blog” hadn’t yet come into existence, Word captured individual voices telling honest, funny, weird, sad, and strange tales with a “realness” that, at the time, was nowhere to be found in mainstream print journalism. Stories were showcased by a colorful, weird, and eclectic digital design that won continuous clumsy negotiations with a technology in its infancy.

By the time Word was shuttered in the year 2000, it had become a repository for writing, music, visual and multimedia art from a list of luminaries too long to mention in a short introductory paragraph. Sadly, because much of Word was built with old timey web applications that no longer exist, the content here only covers the years 1995-1998. The archive from 1998-2000 is in pretty bad shape, with various broken links and missing images and sounds. Happily, we’re in the process of slowly restoring it. In the meantime, please enjoy these screenshots from the later era of Word, where semi-legendary multimedia projects like Sissyfight 2000, Fred the Webmate, Pixeltime, and USA Waste freely roamed the digital universe.

Upon being linked to this, I trawled through the different pages, doing a bit of archaeology to find the things that have been forgotten that might be interesting, or unique, or fun to read.

After spending a few days pinging around the site, I’ve realized that reading Deadword is deeply horrifying to me, and not just in the sense that it is scary, but that it is paralytic. Before Word.com was dead, it was alive, and not just alive, but thriving. I’ve read several articles that have shocked me in how brilliant they are, how fresh they feel, how much they still matter to me, a general reader, more than a decade on.

Then those articles fell away and were archived and hidden and became part of the mass of broken links and wordage barfed out in the proto- then proper- then post- blogosphere. All the things that we think are so properly important to our community, those evergreen articles of philosophy or games criticism or comics tumblrdom, they’re disappearing and getting owned by new companies and slowly, surely, things decay. Medium fails and we lose words, importance, weight that mattered at some time to some people who can’t ever return to or get returns from something they needed and wanted at one time.

In the case of Word, someone raised it from the dead. What about everything else?


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