Marking 20 years of nerdity

Some of the guts to past versions of - including those old school image maps

Some of the guts to past versions of – including those old school image maps

On July 6 this website reached a milestone – the 20 year mark! That’s right, the Unclassified Get Smart Site has gone from the era of floppy disks and cable TV to cloud storage and streaming services – and it still gets clicks! Thanks for bearing with me.

The funny thing about July of 1999 is that it doesn’t seem that long ago. I had spent that summer mostly working at an independent book store in an indoor shopping mall that housed retail icons such as Sears, Carson Pirie Scott, FYE and County Seat. The book store has long since closed and the mall is inching toward the same fate. The late 90s was a different world – as evidence by flourishing brick and mortar retail and tangible entertainment.

Meanwhile, the internet was a new and shiny place that a fraction of the populace had embraced. Cyberspace was populated by college kids and legit computer geeks. It took effort to get online and go somewhere. There’s a reason why today’s 40-year-olds are still holding onto boxes of cords and cables.

Online recreation consisted of chatrooms, listserves and a hodge podge of websites – and it all worked very slowly. Really. I could read a Harry Potter book while I worked on a project and waited for sites to load. Now everyone and their grandmother can press a button on a smartphone and open up Facebook. We get impatient if what we wanted to see doesn’t open in a nanosecond.

While cleaning up the magazine aisle one afternoon that summer, I found an insert on how to write basic HTML code. I went home, followed the instructions and as I played around with it, an idea began to form. I think we all know how that turned out.

I’ve found that knowledge of HTML is still beneficial. This website’s service provider

The original sketches and art that make up the site logo

The original sketches and art that make up the site logo

recently switched some things around on their end and, in the process, punctuation throughout the site turned into gibberish. I was left with the tedious task of re-editing nearly every page.

Initially only a third of this site was devoted to Get Smart. I was really looking for a place to house my fanfic. The rest of the site was focused on music — specifically The Beatles and Swing.

The topic of Get Smart, however, drew more interest. I kept getting emails from people asking where they could buy shoephones. They were not kidding. The show wasn’t being aired anywhere in the U.S. at the time so I think there was a push to draw attention to it. There was also the goal of getting the show on DVD which likely wouldn’t have occurred without fans mobilizing and petitioning.

It’s worth noting that websites weren’t exactly streamlined like they are today. This one was primarily a homepage of links that led to pages filled with text — and maybe photos. In some instances a webpage was like looking at someone’s scrapbook. In others it was the precursor to a blog.

I preferred using image maps at the time but these fell out of favor — probably for a number of accessibility reasons. The map was seen as too large a file — image files that were upward of 100 kb in size were too much for browsers to handle at the time. Today this is laughable. Plus, people seem to prefer clicking on direct links rather than images. So much for aesthetics.

This site began over on Geocities, which offered a whopping 15 megabytes of free space. Low res photos were not enough to stretch the real estate I was given. The endeavor soon became a question of how many free sites I could string together before the powers that be caught on.

Being a sneak about it wouldn’t matter. Geocities had a habit of limiting bandwidth for its free sites, which would leave my site closed after so many clicks. Yes, people actually come here — apparently enough so that Geocities saw a revenue stream and forced my hand. In 2006 I made this a paid site with a domain:

The early 2000s saw quite a collection of Get Smart fan sites. More than a few probably hit the web as result of TVLand airing the show on a regular basis. Many of these sites had around a five-year lifespan. I suspect that fantastic thing called life may have had something to do with their demise. Though, Geocities pulling the plug on its operation in 2009 was the end for a number of websites. I recently did some site maintenance and had to kill a few old links. I hated to do this, but the sites had been taken over by companies more unsavory than Kaos.

This site still gets traffic, emails and I’ve found my url referenced on other pages and even in publications. A few years back a radio station even interviewed me – although that exchange seems to have vaporized into some cyberspace netherworld. Sometimes the internet is not forever.

In two decades the biggest change with this site has to do with time, which is why it has stayed the same. During my college years I had plenty of time to devote to and grow the site. Ah… good old unrestrained youth. As time moves on, we accumulate other priorities which push our pastimes to the back seat. There is always some new collection of challenges or projects poised to eat up time. I recently received an email (ironically as I’m shoe-horning this blog into my schedule) from a person offering suggestions on what could be done when work is slow. Bless their heart.

The part that matters in all of this, though, is the great friendships I’ve made! There’s a whole crew of us that have maintained our friendships for close to quarter of a century – even though we all live miles apart. Get Smart fans are really the best people.

Where it all began - An HTML book, some floppy discs and the original homepage.

Where it all began – An HTML book, some floppy discs and the original homepage.