The tangled web

In which I find myself unironically missing old, hard-copy Yellow Pages.

I came into the possession of a vintage sport coat which was in excellent condition except for several strata of dust on the shoulders, from hanging unused but uncovered for decades. The care instructions say dry clean only, so I went looking for a dry cleaner. The internet suggested there were several near me. On further examination, however, one was shuttered up. Another had remodeled and become just a regular laundromat.

Defunct and refactored businesses wouldn’t have paid for Yellow Pages ads, so traces of them wouldn’t have survived into a new edition. They had no incentive to remove traces of their old identity from the web, though. And they probably couldn’t have even if they had wanted to. So I chased a few phantoms of dry cleaners past before finding someplace a bit further away that could actually clean the jacket.

I’ve read several articles recently about the accelerating enshittification of the internet, each with nostalgic callbacks to what the internet used to be. But there’s a kind of degradation which was inevitable. When the internet was new, the contributions were all relatively recent. Now current details live alongside time capsules and palimpsests. The claw machine of search will grab you something, but it might be anything.1

What I’ve been reading

  1. No, AI won’t solve this.

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