Tuesday, December 04, 2018

BPN 1745: Dutch site on Tarot 23 years unchanged online

Last week during the UN World Preservation Day, the Royal Dutch Library published the web incunabula of the Dutch internet supplier Euronet. One of the striking sites in their archival web collection was the site of apolitical party. When I shared the news about the Euronet web collection with Peter Bloemendaal, a former colleague of mine. Through him I came into contact with Euronet. To my own surprise, he reminded me of the Tarot site on Euronet, dating back to 1995, 23 years ago. 

An artistically minded family member of mine, Doetie Spinder, had drawn a deck of Tarot cards. And to help her, we saw Internet (at that time still written with a capital!) as a distribution and sales channel. Internet was rather new and it would open up the world by using the Dutch and English languages on the site. And  the series of cards could be sold via internet. The drawings were scanned and there Peter Bloemendaal started to bang html code on his Apple machine. On 20 November 1995 at 21 minutes after midnight, the site was launched.

After the launch the site hasn't changed anymore. This can be seen from the 60 captures of the homepage on the Wayback Machine/Internet Archive, which were recorded from 27 January 1995 to 17 February 2006. These captures also provide information about the frequency of visits.  On 26 November 1995 a counter was put on the site. Until 31 December 1997 the site was visited by 361 visitors. From 1 January 1998 the URL was changed and the visitor registration started anew,  with on 6 October 1999 the number of 4366 visitors and on 23 July 2001 the counter showed 6677 visitors. After that the counter was started again and the number of visitors climbed to 5454.

There was also a guestbook on the site, registering reactions from 1995 to 1997. These came from the Netherlands, Italy, USA and Australia. Often the messages contain admiration for the drawings. In1996 one visitor noticed that more detail of the drawings was desired. But given the slow speed of the network at that time, that would have spoilt the pleasure as longer download times created the danger of visitors moving away.

On the homepage a facility was offered  to order the deck of Tarot cards, which started with the drawing of The Fool. Now after 23 years the number of orders can be counted on just one hand. From outside Holland, there were inquiries from Italy, USA and Australia, but orders with advance payment did usually not materialise. And the orders from the Netherlands did not come through either, simply because there was no convenient payment method through internet yet.

Why is the site interesting at this juncture of time? The site is now 23 years online without any change to the text or the drawings. This, while in 2018 an internet page will be online for an average period of 90 days and it will hardly be archived. Moreover, these days most sites are created with content management packages, containing many templates for easy handling of content and layout. The lay-out of this Tarot site - mind you two years before the launch of Dreamweaver - is completely manually typed with html mark-up codes. The original file of the site has now been transferred to the Royal Dutch Library and will archived from January 4, 2019 onwards.

Monday, December 03, 2018

BPN1744: 'Ancient' Dutch web collection found

A web archiving team of the Royal Dutch Library started to secure Dutch internet sites in 2007 and has now stored more than two million websites with a .NL suffix. Since 2017, the team has paid special attention to the very oldest websites from the early days (1992-2000) of the Dutch web. The first Dutch website came online in February 1992 and this Nikhef site was the third website worldwide. This was followed by real internet pioneers such as NLnet and Knoware. But the real breakthrough of the Internet in The Netherlands came with the Internet suppliers XS4ALL (May 1,1993) and The Digital City Amsterdam (15 January 1994). 
On November 29, 2018 there was a big surprise, when the Royal Library announced at UN World Preservation Day, that the web archiving team had discovered a special web collection from Internet provider Euronet. This is interesting, as Euronet is an Internet provider with a 'long' history. 

Euronet,the company
Euronet did not have its roots in the Internet, its ideals and anarchy. Euronet*Internet meant business by providing access to internet for companies and residents. The founders, Arko van Brakel and the Englishman Simon Cavendish, realised that Euronet had a difficult message with explaining what the Internet was and how to access it. So the company had to attract attention and it did. So the founders designed a welcome box for newsubscribers, containing a manual and a CD for gaining access to internet.

Their most famous action was the monkey tail campaign, where on the morning on 1 May 1995, Labour Day,  posters of a monkey with a curly tail were posted in bus shelters throughout Amsterdam .

In 1998 France Telecom bought the company, after which the company changed hands several times as did the trade marks: Wanadoo, Orange and now under most of the original web name Online.nl.

Despite all these marketing problems, the URL euronet.nl continued to exist as a sub mark for the business market. And so you can find sites that exist since 1995 and have never changed. Moreover, the archiving team has found overviews of the websites on Euronet from May 1997, December 1998 and 2005 and February 2017. Only a small part of the original Euronet sites is included in the collection of the well-known Internet Archive (IA) archives service. The web archiving team accidentally found a copy of a political website of the Dutch liberal party D66 from 1998 and pages of the local site of the D66 chapter Aalsmeer. According to the source code, this site has been online at this web location for twenty years.