From:         Patrick Crispen 
Subject:      TOURBUS - 21 Jul 2005 - A Look Back


The Internet Tourbus - U.S. Library of Congress ISSN #1094-2239
Copyright © Bob Rankin and Patrick Crispen - All rights reserved
Project Bartleby, My Yahoo!, Dogpile

Howdy, y'all, and greetings once again from deep behind the orange curtain in beautiful Irvine, California, landing site of the Apollo Eleven lunar module.

In honor of the 36th anniversary of the moon landing, our friends at Google have launched a new service: "Google Moon". Like Google Maps [at ], Google Moon offers a dragable, zoomable map of the Moon. Zoom in all the way for a wonderful "Easter egg." :)

On with the show...

Ten years ago, during my sixth or seventh senior year at the University of Alabama, Bob Rankin approached me via email with the idea of creating a one- or two-week workshop that focused on neat sites on the then relatively new world wide web. I'm not sure who came up with the idea of doing a semi-weekly newsletter instead of a workshop--of course that doesn't stop me from pretending that it was *MY* idea--but the rest is history.

[Oh, and for the record, Bob and I *STILL* have never met in person.]

I think you'll agree we've visited some pretty cool sites over the years. Here are three of my favorites:

Project Bartleby

First Visit: November 16, 1995 Original Post:

Named after Herman Melville's short story "Bartleby, The Scrivener," Project Bartleby [now just called] is an online library developed at Columbia University. When we first visited the site in the winter of 1995, Project Bartleby had a whopping total of 11 books. But, the site was a pioneer: Project Bartleby was the first site in the world to publish the entire contents of a classic novel (Whitman's "Leaves of Grass") on the web.

Ten years later,'s web site at

proclaims it is the "preeminent Internet publisher of literature, reference and verse providing students, researchers and the intellectual curious with unlimited access to books and information on the web, free of charge." And the site has a lot more than the 11 books with which they started. In fact, now has a
searchable database of over 370,000 web pages, including the largest database of quotations ever published (over 86,000 quotations) and the largest freely available verse database (over 10,000 poems).

So many high-quality sites have disappeared from the net over the past 10 years. It's nice to see that one of the best reference sites in the world is still going strong.

My Yahoo!

First Visit: July 11, 1996 Original Post:

This particular stop still ranks among my favorites, not only because it introduced everyone to the site that eventually spawned the "portal wars" but also because the July 11th post contained on of my favorite quotes of all time. The quote came from a review of the Marin County Fair (vaguely northeast of San Francisco) which appeared in the July 4, 1996, San Francisco Chronicle. The article starts out with a paragraph describing how kids attending the fair were more interested in playing the video games than looking at the farm animals.

"Animals don't do much," said Darren Gutenberg, 11. "Cows just walk around. The world is getting too high tech to spend time looking at cows."

Lisa Lavagetto, pig owner: "Kids have lost the ability to deal with creatures. A pig is a living and breathing animal. A lot of these kids have never seen a pig. All they know is computers. There's nothing wrong with computers, but they aren't pigs."

I don't know why that last line cracks me up so much, but it does. I guess spending 10 years in Oklahoma and 15 years in Alabama will do that to you. :)

When we first visited My Yahoo! the site was still in beta. But the site was revolutionary and a lot of the things that My Yahoo! introduced in 1996 are now commonplace. Back in 1996, all web pages were pretty much static: the page I saw at or was identical to the web page you saw. My Yahoo! changed that by letting you customize your own Yahoo- branded personal web page to display only the information that interested you. And My Yahoo! still lets you do that. You can find My Yahoo! on the web at

Setup is a snap. Just sign up for a free Yahoo account and then customize your my Yahoo! page. That's it.

Once My Yahoo! hit the scene in mid-1996, everyone company in the world seemed to rush into the web portal market. Excite, Lycos, Infoseek,, and AltaVista all offered personalized portals in one form or another. Heck, in May of 2005 -- NINE YEARS after My Yahoo! burst onto the scene -- Google introduced their own personalized interface at

But My Yahoo! was still the first. Or at least it was the first we talked about in Tourbus.


First Visit: March 27, 1997 Original Post:

In the early days of the web, if you wanted to find something you'd have to search Yahoo! *AND* Lycos *AND* Excite *AND* AltaVista *AND* HotBot *AND*... Needless to say, finding stuff on the net was a downright chore.

Meta search engines like MetaCrawler [first visit: April 11, 1996] solved that problem by letting you search a bunch of different search engines and directories at once, but it took Aaron Flin's Dogpile to turn meta searching into an artform. If you are like most veteran Tourbus riders, Dogpile was hands-down your favorite search site... until September 22, 1998, when our little bus of internet happiness introduced you to a new, experimental search engine at Stanford University named "Google."

Dogpile is still around, though, at

The Internet Tourbus - U.S. Library of Congress ISSN #1094-2239
Copyright © Bob Rankin and Patrick Crispen - All rights reserved

and I still use it from time to time just for nostalgia's sake. That's it for today. I may dip into the archives again soon. Until then, thank you for joining me for the past ten years on this never- ending tour of the Internet that we call Tourbus, and we'll talk again soon.

Tourbus Archives -

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