If you look deep enough, beneath mountains of attention hoarding, illusion photography, trending trends, you’ll find the old Internet, the one with content, knowledge, individuality, but you need to look hard. Can it be saved?
I have listed this essay in the Internet category of the directory.
Great essay on what happened to the old Internet, why it was superior to Web 2.0 and some thoughts about rebuilding it. This is exactly why I established the Webmaster Resources category here at the directory. It has HTML editors, scripts and generally all the links one needs to build some sort of website.
I ran across a web directory devoted to Neocities websites: Neocities Districts. It’s a very attractive human edited directory. “Districts” are a nice nod to the nostalgia for old Geocities districts.
Neocities has a great internal search function to find sites powered by Duckduckgo. But there is value in a directory like this one, in that you have a human editor sorting the wheat from the chaff. Something no search engine crawler can really do. If you want to find some interesting Neocities sites I suggest using Neocities Districts first.
A few weeks ago I wanted to offer a copy/paste searchbox here on Indieseek.xyz so other webmasters could offer a search box on their site. The problem was I had no idea how to code it. I can edit some HTML but not devise it from scratch.
Then I remembered, I had offered a search box on one of my niche directories back in 2004 and I was using an earlier version of the same directory script.
Would Archive.org‘s Wayback machine have preserved that?
Would the code still work?
I pulled up my old directory on Wayback. Found the link to the ancient “Link to Us” page. Would this work? I clicked on it. After a long delay the page came up. And there was the copy/paste code! I copied it and saved it in a Notebook.
Now would it work? I edited the domain and quick slapped it up on a server page and It Worked! That search box code made by a guy I hired back in the early Aughts was still good.
I won’t bore you with my frantic quest for a HTML guide to learn how to code a textarea and all that, But an hour later I had my new Link to Us page up and running complete with copy paste codes.
I think the ghosts on my long dead site, once my flagship directory, were looking out for me even after all these years. Web 1.0 to the rescue.
In addition to building web directories I’m a firm believer in hyper-local news as part of the future.
All across America there are small towns that are no longer directly covered by a local newspaper. Once upon a time they probably had their own weekly paper or maybe even a daily but those have shut down. They are probably served by a regional paper, but, and this is the important part, that paper does not report on the meetings of your little town’s government. Therein lies your opportunity if nobody is covering your town government.
Start a blog on your own domain. Best if it sounds newspaperish.
Start a blog. I recommend WordPress for this. Find a newspaper looking theme.
Start attending meetings of your town government. It’s probably one night a month. Take notes ask questions.
Write up a brief summary of the meeting: topics discussed, action taken on your blog. Keep it impartial stick to the facts. Try to explain to your readers why the town is doing it the way they are – why it’s important.
Even small towns these days post transcripts of town council meetings, usually as PDF’s. Most town citizens will never take the time to read those. They are more likely to skim your summary.
Spread the word around town. And hand out flyers to people with your URL.
Put up a contact form, encourage clubs, churches, civic organizations to inform you of upcoming events and post those for free. The local library always has stuff going on, post that.
Make a business directory: you can probably find a plugin for WordPress. List all the local businesses and civic organizations. List the clubs and their meeting places and times.
Everyone has a smartphone with a camera these days. Walk around town. Take photos of interesting stuff. Heck, have Mr. Smith pose for you while he’s raking leaves. Post it on the blog. Or get a photo gallery plugin. People like seeing what’s going on around town at a sidewalk level. People like seeing their name in the “paper”. You can do a heck of a lot just with photos and captions.
If there is no “shopper” newspaper you might add a classifieds script.
Take some good photos of the town. Turn them into ePostcards with “Greetings from MYTOWNNAME” and get an electronic postcard script. Visitors and locals alike enjoy these.
Fill the vacuum left by not having a little hyper local paper.
Cover people’s hobbies when you hear about them: if you admire somebody’s yard and flower garden ask to interview them and take pictures then post. If somebody has a big model train layout, introduce yourself and ask to write a story about it.
None of this costs much except some time. This is perfect for somebody who is retired. You are helping knit together a community again. Go to the library, chances are they may have the archives of the old weekly town newspaper that went belly up 50 years ago. Read through the archives from 100 years ago. Small town papers were folksy a lot of the news was gossipy stuff: Robert Smith’s parents from Peoria are visiting him for a week. Delinquent kids are breaking bottles on the sidewalks in Founder’s Park. There is no reason your little news portal can’t do the same. Get the community involved in reporting news: post photos sent in of the Volunteer Fire Department fund raiser,
You are going to have to play with the scale here. Your town may no longer have many businesses left open in town proper. If everybody has to go to the next town over to shop then list those businesses in your directory.
Keep you blog’s comments open and as easy to use as possible. Use Akismet or other plugins to prevent spam. If you get a fair amount of discussion, consider adding a forum script for the local wags to discuss stuff.
It may take awhile for word of mouth to spread but keep at it and it will. Make friends with the local librarians, they will help you find resources to hone your craft and if they like you they will help informally spread the word.
It’s a good way to become involved, become self informed about your community and give something back by sharing.
It’s always neat on a new domain and website to see which crawlers (aka Spiders, Robots) find you and what they do.
Indieseek.xyz is lousy with crawler bots.
Google found us first. Within 24 hours of my first testing posts (either a webmention to another site or when I added a link back on my Twitter profile, Googlebot was all over the site. Googlebot is very competent and well behaved, but voracious. This is to Google’s credit, that is what a search engine spider is supposed to be. Google is always keen to find new sites. Every day since then one, two sometimes 3 Googlebots have been in the directory, getting into everything. They almost camp out there.
Bing or a bot pretending to be Bingbot found us second but a few days later. I’m not sure is it is the real Bingbot because it mearly checks the index page and leaves a query string of “amazon”. It came beck several times but I never detected it going deeper. Has not been back in awhile. Bing always seems to hold back on indexing. You can check one week and they only have your index page. You check again weeks later and they have 6 pages, a few weeks more and they have 6 more.
A few days after I started cross posting to Twitter the spambots showed up. Some I can only detect because they try to leave spam comments. So far the defenses are holding on those. The others are better behaved: one from a popular SEO tools site has been, almost as voracious as Google in checking out the entire site, another which may be somebody’s experiment keeps coming back, and the third, unnamed, is from Asia and keeps coming back and just hanging on my help page. Weird. The later three are not of any value to me, but I’m okay on bandwidth so I let them carry on.
So far, no traffic from any search engine. That does not surprise me as Indieseek has almost no inbound links.
The plan of action, is to keep writing posts in the Indieseek blog and keep adding listings in the directory and what will be will be.
In case you don’t know, when you do a search on Indieseek.xyz at the bottom of the search results is the option to continue that same search on your choice of search engines. With Findx shutting down I had to find a replacement search engine.
These are notebook type thoughts. I’m developing my thoughts.
I have been thinking of a directory of directories and how that would work. There is no value in just listing a bunch of spammy directories built only for SEO purposes. And I have already listed the good traditional directories in Indieseek.
However, what if I got away from what I normally consider a “directory” and started thinking about hyperlink nodes – collections of hyperlinks?
Good Directories – fellow travelers with what Kicks Condor and I are trying to do.
Good Indie Search Engines – with their own index.
Blogrolls and Following Pages – extensive ones.
Link Pages – extensive ones.
Niche Directories – many are built using pages on a blog but I keep running into them.
Webrings – functioning ones. (Maybe ??)
Other – You know them if you look close, but they may not be obvious.
The first two bullet points, I have or can easily cover here on Indieseek, but the later points from Blogrolls down I don’t think have ever been mapped out. It’s a bit like cataloging the forgotten notebooks of the web.
The bulleted list above would probably make a good set of top level categories.
The second question is: does this have any value? And for that I’m not sure. I could see somebody using the Blogroll category to find blogs that other individuals are following. Each blogroll is a word of mouth recommendation. And that’s the thing, these relatively small hyperlink nodes, mostly all have humans making them and that has a value – somehow. This gets down to the grass roots of the Web. The Web, by definition, is about hyperlinks and linking – by humans for use by humans, not algorithms.
I don’t think it will ever be huge. but may over time end up being larger than I anticipate. Which is why I’m leaning toward using a directory script vs. trying to do this on the wiki. Easier to maintain on a purpose built script.
I don’t think it will get used a lot by the public. I don’t think the public will understand it. I don’t really care about either of those. Some people collect rocks, I collect links. *Sigh* At the minimum this would be a place to keep bookmarks of these hyperlink nodes.
Seems like this could be a good place to store these links publicly since I keep finding them.
Added a Top Categories page to highlight the directory categories that are shaping up nicely into a good resource to browse.
Created a top level category “Podcasts” with a subcategory “Microcasts” under it in the directory. Podcasts and Microcasts get listed twice in the directory: Primary in a category that matches their topic and Secondary in either the Podcast or Microcast category.
A local directory covers a defined geographic area. It may be a region, town, city, county, state. While a local directory lists website URL’s, they are not required. It’s primary mission is to connect the searcher with a location or business. It does this by listing street address, phone number, business hours, URL, Description, map location, comments and reviews. If you think Yellow Pages or even Google Maps you get the picture.
Google Maps and Yellow Pages are also going to be your major competitors. You need to focus on what you can provide that the big nationals can’t: 1. Your local knowledge and experience, 2. your ability to find stuff in person, boots on the ground, 3. free listings.
Local Directories can be a good sideline for a person that designs websites for local businesses.
There are lots of different recipes for a local directory:
Comprehensive Directory that includes several of the above or all of the above.
Note each one of the list above could be a stand alone how to blog post which I’ll write Real Soon Now. If you want me to expand upon something, for now just ask in the comments.
The important thing is you need to look at your area: what does it offer, what do you need to know when you are looking for something, what does the competition overlook? A tourism guide won’t work in an area that has no tourism and nothing to build tourism around. Likewise, a Town News and Event Portal won’t work if your town is well served by a local newspaper. But so many small towns are only served by regional or county wide papers, so if the paper does not do things like cover town government meetings and when the book club meets you might have a niche.
Keep in mind, a local business directory is not limited to just businesses and organizations like churches, libraries and the YMCA. Because you have maps you can also list local natural attractions, hiking or biking trails, scenic outlooks, parks, farmers markets, best fishing spots, bird watching spots, train spotting spots, swimming areas with and without lifeguards, all the things that leverage your local knowledge that Google and Yelp miss.
Directory + Blog
Most local directory types are well complimented by having a blog. The blog lets you have a voice and fresh new content in a way that a directory alone cannot do.
A big city directory (eg. DigiLondon) can probably get by without because big cities are sort of anonymous places. But a dining guide might want a blog for restaurant reviews.
Choosing Your Business Directory Script or Plugin
You can chose between a stand alone directory script or if you use WordPress as your blog there are a number of business directory plugins available for WordPress. Here is my listing of some resources.
One thing to look out for is you want a script or plugin that is being actively improved and maintained. Most people prefer Google maps for their directories, but Google could shut down their API or raise their prices for use at any time so you want a directory script that either A. gives you a choice among map provides right out of the box, or B. is being supported so if Google cuts everybody off the software developer is still around and can switch you to Bing Maps or some other alternative.
Various other scripts can enhance a local directory: forums can add a local social network element for discussion, photo gallery can be a place for people to post local photos. Whatever you think might enhance your directory.
Take a look at a small local directory and personal blog combination: Life in the Forest of Dean. The owners blog about retired life and gardening, they added a local activity section and a first class local directory to give something back to their community. That directory gets a lot of visitors, both from people outside the area and also from local residents. The area covered incorporates a number of towns and villages and it’s just big enough that the local people can’t always know that a new eatery opened in the next town, or where to buy firewood, etc. So the directory serves both locals and tourists alike. Notice that the directory part is ordered by towns with each town serving as a top level category. This is very good organization listing by geography.
You can always start by making a local directory for your own use if you want listing the places you eat at, shop at, go to. And keep adding more over time. Or you can have some other plan for somehting from the list above. The process will work best if you enjoy it, enjoy getting out, exploring, taking notes and pictures.
Last night I noticed a referral from search engine Wiby.me. Surprised I checked and we got listed! Somebody from Wiby must have added Indieseek.xyz which was darn nice of them.
If you haven’t heard of Wiby.me you really should try it out. It’s a search engine mainly of websites coded in HTML and not about sites running on PHP platforms. Which means it lists a bunch of cool sites. I find it addictive and fun.
Wiby’s mission runs in the same general direction as Indieseek’s but not exactly parallel which is part of the fun.