You Won’t Find Us on Alta Vista
September 16, 2008
Well, you will, but you won’t get the main page, and the results aren’t quite as satisfying as a nice google search. To be honest, I didn’t even know that Alta Vista still existed. So does Dogpile. I assumed everyone just used google, excepting the few people who use yahoo because they have a yahoo mail account and the few who use Microsoft under the whole “it’s so uncool it’s cool” paradigm. These are like the people who went to Starbucks five or six months ago. Now it seems that Starbucks is turning the corner and became genuinely cool again once it announced its financial troubles. Watch, it’ll happen with Newspapers too.
I got to thinking about this the other day when The Streets “Let’s Push Things Forward” came on in my itunes. I’ve always liked the song, but now I’ve decided it’s because of the “You Won’t Find Us on Alta Vista/Cult Classic not Best Seller” couplet. This is 100% revisionist. I used to like it for the “Around here we say birds, not bitches” line because I’m interested in vocabulary and cultural relativism. But now I like it for the way it defines the feel of the early 2000s. The key to the Alta Vista line is that it was already a year to two years uncool by the time the song came out, but it had once been supremely cool. Those were the wet and wild, rough and tumble pre-wikipedia years where searching for factual information online was like combing the desert in Spaceballs. Things were changing technology wise, but at a normal speed, one that you could live.
It’s weird to think of it, but these websites are like ghost towns, spaces we inhabited and now venture into no longer. There’s no practical–nor impractical–antiquarian value to using Alta Vista. It just reminds you how imprecise the internet once was. It wasn’t a more elegant time, like the age of letters, just a different sort of time. I can’t wait for a period piece that takes place in 2001-2002 (a nice comedy of manners), or even a movie like “The Wackness.” I’m sure there was a look to the early aughts, but I don’t know what it is until someone shows it to me, much like what happened with the nineties. I remember thinking at the time that I lived in a style free era, unlike the 1980s, with the exception of the grunge bubble. I was irrationally exuberant, yes.
So, farewell Alta Vista, you barely friendster you! Alta Vista? I hardly know her!