Reviving the Bag of URLs

Bag Sm I’ve been collecting worthy and interesting web sites for almost as long as I can remember, heaping them up in piles on the floor. Actually, we have a site called the Bag of URLs where I post and share them– this started back in 1996 primarily as a selfish tool for my own use to have web sites I found to be searchable and annotated– something almost 9 years later that web browser bookmarks lack. The most current bag is always freshly available.

(Bonus points to anyone that identify the 1990s CD clip art collection that the graphic came from – I still see clips in print and web sites from this classic set of the piggy bank, the mail box, etc.)

The site uses a rather archaic unix search program that indexes a monstrous text file each night and then is called to do word searches on demand. More vintage 199s code.

Anyhow, back in the mid 1996s one of my previous student programmers helped craft some perl code to help manage submissions, publish new collections, and send updates to people who self subscribed to a listserv (it was set up to me outgoing only announcements). While looking at the mailman listserv software we had been running for 4 or 5 years, I was a bit peeved that I saw it had not successfully emailed anything out since March 2004. I had been blithely processing new issues, but they all got emailed to the black hole. In digging further, I was able to discover that some automated Red Hat updates had managed to munge the sendmail settings. I had a server guru set us up with swap us from sendmail to ?? exim ?? but somewhere in the wash, mailman was still toasted.

Then a thunderclap hit that I have an XServe running that comes with Mailman out of the box, so it was pretty easy to move the subscription list over, and get the mail going again (I think- there are about 90 million settings in mailman with a lot of overlap).

So if you want to sign up just to get notified when we publish a new “bag”, see our subscription form— and it would help me test that the darn thing works. Of course it is not strictly necessary as I did add an RSS feed a year ago and you will see changes there as I add new items rather than when there are enough to announce.

For some history, I guess one might even call this activity blogging. I first hand wrote The WWWWNews site in 1994-1995, e.g. see what was new and exciting (to me) from October 24, 1994. I was also trying to be a baby Yahoo and do my own subject category of web sites as “Hot Links” around 1995. This then evolved into something with a search tool we called 451F that also incorporated a submission form… this burned through 1997 when the Bag of URLs emerged, so see what was happening on the web in September 1996 or May 1998 or February 2001 or just 2 days ago.

I like having this record, even if many of the sites are gone, porned, or not even relevant anymore. There is too much free tossing of web pages as sites evolve, leaving bookmarks and search engines pining for dead pages.

Anyhow, the bag is always open.

Profile Picture for Alan Levine aka CogDog
An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at CogDogBlog.com on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person.