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.

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