After looking through multiple GeoCities built between 1995 and 1997, the early internet seems to be a space where personal websites flourished and were much more common than today. It was characterized by a sense of community, self-expression, and a passion for niche interests. In the midst of this digital awakening, Aaron Schnatterly’s GeoCities webpage which was dedicated to open-water diving throughout the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean, serves as a glimpse into the bygone era of web 1.0. My post will explore Aaron’s site through the lens of the circuit of culture, emphasizing the aspects of production, representation, consumption, identity, and social context.
Aaron Schnatterly’s GeoCities site is a personal web blog that embodies the DIY ethos of the early internet. Aaron, who I presume is the sole creator, uses the webpage as a platform to share his experiences and knowledge about open-water diving. The site’s simplicity and straightforward layout reflect the limited web design tools available in the mid 1990s. There are no drop-down tabs that are found on most websites today, and there are very few links to other pages. From the introduction on the page, the main motivation likely included connecting with fellow divers, sharing insights, and documenting underwater adventures.
The site conveys Aaron’s identity as an enthusiastic and welcoming diver. Beginning with a friendly greeting, “Hi! and WELCOME!”, it invites page visitors to explore his world of underwater exploration. The inclusion of a picture of Aaron scuba diving reinforces his personal connection to the topic and adds a human touch. The light blue background resembling water and the scuba flag reinforce the site’s aesthetics, making it visually appealing and immersive.
Visitors to the site become consumers of Aaron’s diving experiences and knowledge. The content-rich pages provide insights into open-water diving along the U.S. coast and in the Caribbean, catering to an even more niche audience of divers. The mention of “This Ultimate Divers Webring” indicates that Aaron’s site was part of a network of similar sites, making it easier for like-minded individuals to discover his content, thereby emphasizing the interconnected nature of early internet communities. In fact, one link on this web page brings up another diver enthusiast page, pictured below. The content and motivation seem to be very much in line with Aaron’s page.
Aaron’s online identity is multifaceted. His site reflects his persona as a passionate diver who is eager to share his experiences and expertise. It even has a link to his email so that people can get in touch and connect about shared experiences or diving tips. The site’s personal tone and the inclusion of information about his dive equipment and dive buddies add depth to his online identity, suggesting a pretty personable and approachable demeanor. The website also lists his membership in the HTML Writers Guild, highlighting his affiliation with a broader online community, demonstrating a commitment to web development.
Aaron’s GeoCities site finds its place within the broader context of early internet culture. An example of the web 1.0 spirit of user-generated content and community participation. The site’s affiliation with Webring highlights the interconnectedness of early internet communities, where websites with similar themes would link to one another, creating a sense of online community.
Aaron’s GeoCities Dive Page is a testament to the spirit of the early internet—a time when personal websites allowed individuals to share their passions and connect with like-minded people. This page serves as a great example of the production, representation, consumption, identity, and social context of the early internet, revealing the rich early internet culture. Aaron’s site embodies the ethos of a bygone era when web enthusiasts explored the digital frontier and cultivated online communities.
Aaron’s Dive Page and Website image: https://geocities.restorativland.org/TheTropics/Paradise/1125/
Joel and Nicole’s Dive Page and Website Image: https://web.archive.org/web/20200316053513/https://geocities.restorativland.org/TheTropics/Shores/3662/fullgraphics.html