Wow! O'Reilly have just put up the entire archive of Esther Dyson's Release 1.0 journal, now renamed Release 2.0. I was interviewed by Kevin Werbach back in '99 and was featured in the July issue on syndication (the hot new technology of the day). From page 18:
For a taste of the future, go to theweb.startshere.net. The site, created by British developer Ian Davis, looks crude and incomplete today, but it could be a template for something big: the individual portal. It's an aggregation site composed of nothing but syndicated content feeds in open formats such as RSS. The My.Userland.Com site offers something similar called "favorite" channels, without the layout options. And the shareware Carmen's Headline Viewer organizes syndicated hyperlinks with a standalone desktop app. Just as HTML democratized authoring, individual portals could democratize content aggregation.
Davis is also developing an open content syndication (OCS) directory specification for describing and exporting lists of content feeds to other aggregation sites.
In a world of millions of content feeds, it becomes increasingly hard to find anything. This, after all, is what made people turn to Yahoo! in the first place when the number of Websites grew beyond a manageable level. Open content syndication networks cry out for open directories.
Thankfully, efforts are underway to meet this need. One is the Netscape Open Directory (formerly NewHoo), a Yahoo!-like directory that uses a distributed network of volunteers to classify sites. Another is James Carlyle's xmlTree, a directory of XML content resources organized using the Dewey Decimal System. xmlTree listings themselves are tagged in XML with Dublin Core RDF metadata (see Release 1.0, 5-98), for easy searching by humans or Web-based intelligent agents.
The PDF version has a black and white screenshot of my startshere site, although my recollection is that the original was in colour (I've lost mine somewhere). The Internet Archive has remembered it though so you can soak it up in all its glory.
My, how things have changed. startshere.net got snaffled up by a domain squatter some time later in the same black period where I lost openjava.org (sorry Kevin!) due to a mixup with email addresses resulting in me not getting the registration reminders. By then though I'd moved onto building Wapaw, the first ever search engine for WAP content. The creator of Carmen's Headline Viewer went on to become one of the most influential people in the Web 2.0 age! (Hi Jeff!) Dave stayed Dave and went on to cement his place in history by inventing podcasting and opml. The Netscape Open Directory had a brief fling with fame and became DMoz before fading into obscurity.
I went on to form a startup called Calaba with James Carlyle where we unified his directory ideas with the mobile search engine. We dropped Dewey immediately and worked on our multidimensional classification technology. This eventually ended up being owned by BSkyB after languishing sadly with Surfkitchen for a number of years. At least it's now being used every day on Sky Interactive. Our main competitor in that space was a tiny startup called Endeca (hi Rob and Wing!) who went on to popularise the multidimensional classification stuff as the faceted browsing we all know and love today.
Fun memories from the Golden Age of Web 1.0 :-)