MapQuest and Other Internet Zombies

The dream of the 1990s internet is still alive, if you look in the right corner.

More than 17 million Americans regularly use MapQuest, according to data from research firm ComScore, one of the first digital mapping websites to be overtaken by Google and Apple a long time ago. The dot-com-era internet portal was shut down 20 years ago, but its ghost lives in “Go”, which is part of the web addresses of some Disney sites.

Ask Jeeves, a web search engine that was started before Google, still has fans and people typing “Ask Jeeves a question” into Google search.

You may laugh at AOL, but it’s still the 50th most popular website in the US, according to SimilarWeb. Virtual World Second Life never went away in the early 2000’s and is now living a second life as a proto-metavars brand.

Some one-time online stars have hung on much longer than we expected, showing that it is possible to live an online life longer after stardom has faded.

“These are almost cockroach brands,” said Ben Scott, Bloomberg Opinion’s brand and advertising columnist. “They are so small and resilient that they cannot be killed.”

Can’t even compare to debris bugs Seemed To be flattered. But there is something heartbreaking about the pioneers who shaped the early Internet, lost their dominance and dominance, and eventually made a name for themselves. They may never be as popular or powerful as a generation ago, but musty internet brands can still have a fruitful purpose.

These brands have managed to survive through a combination of inertia, nostalgia, the fact that they have created a product that people love, digital money making skills and the strangeness of the rickettsial internet. If today’s internet powers like Facebook and Pinterest also lose compatibility, they will stick for decades.

System 1, which owns MapQuest and HowStuffWorks in another website, has a strategy of attracting people to its digital properties collection through ad pitch or other techniques, turning them into loyal users and monetizing their clicks or other sales. The web strategy of the early 2000’s is not far from turning “eyeballs” into revenue.

Michael Blend, chief executive officer and co-founder of System 1, said his company had spent money on Internet advertising to attract people to MapQuest and had also improved its mapping functions. A feature has been added since System 1 purchased MapQuest from Verizon in 2019, allowing delivery couriers to plan long routes with multiple stops.

Blend said General X nostalgia or online marketing can persuade people to try MapQuest once or twice, but the company wants to make the site so useful that they keep coming back regularly. He also said that more than half of the people who use MapQuest are so young that they may never know it at its peak.

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

I don’t have a big explanation for the resilience of some of the 1990’s internet properties. Although people are searching for Ask Jeeves, its owner, the internet group IAC / InterActiveCorp, dropped the English butler’s name in 2005 and quit trying to compete with Google search more than a decade ago. The website now called is a compilation of mostly entertainment and celebrity news.

A for Disney, which owned the Internet portal, has no concrete explanation as to why Go’s fingerprints are still on some of the company’s Internet sites. (Onions mocked Disney for this years ago.) In general, today’s websites are often built on top of the remnants of the old Internet, like a modern mansion built on the foundation of a 19th-century home.

Scott mentioned something I couldn’t get out of my head. He said that once a favorite restaurant chain or industrial factory closes, the general public reaction is saddened by what people have lost. But Scott said that when Internet properties like Yahoo and MySpace sink or die, it is often dismissed as a joke.

“There’s a weird scandinavian when tech companies fail which I don’t think happens with other industries,” he said. “I’m not sure what it is.”

Maybe it’s starting to change. Sadness erupted when Microsoft retired its 27-year-old Internet Explorer web browser this month. As the age of the Internet grows – and so do those of us who remember its early years – the more we can feel the excitement for what happened before.

  • China’s eye on its citizens: An investigation by The New York Times found that surveillance by Chinese authorities was more extensive than previously thought. Police need facial recognition cameras where people eat and shop and also in private places like residential houses and hotels. Authorities are buying equipment to create a large-scale database of iris scans and DNA. As my colleagues report, the goal is to “maximize what the state can find out about an individual’s identity, activities, and social connections, which can ultimately help the government maintain its authoritarian rule.”

    Watch the video check here.

  • Complaints about bait and switch: Small business owners say that Google has attracted them to the company’s free customized email and other workplace software and now they need payment in one process. One business owner told my colleague Nico Grant, “I found it unnecessarily mean.”

  • Other car companies envy Tesla: Established automakers like Ford like Tesla want to sell more of their cars directly to buyers online. One problem: laws in many states require cars to be sold through dealerships, writes Paul Stanquist for The Times.

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