Personal websites and web shrines
The first non-commercial, creator websites began cropping up in the mid-1990s. They were rudimentary, hard-coded HTML websites, often based around hobbies, pets and interests. Celebrity worship took the form of fan-built “web shrines” — websites dedicated to actors and musicians cobbled together with text, photos and clip art. But personal websites were hard to find. The Yahoo! directory, launched in 1994, grew popular because it allowed people to discover creators’ websites by category, from arts and entertainment, to environment and nature, to society and culture.
Web communities, web logs and forums
Founded in 1994, GeoCities offered free website hosting and a choice of themed “neighborhoods” to join. This enabled hundreds of thousands to create their first websites and become part of a community — a built-in audience who shared their interests, from video games to pottery to rock bands. The service was bought by Yahoo! in 1999 and shut down 10 years later.
In 1999, Blogger and LiveJournal launched their free online “web blog” platforms, putting simple publishing tools in the hands of creators (with Tumblr following years later). Though blogs were hosted on the blogging platforms’ websites, they allowed creators to build their own digital homes on the web.
Content forums such as phpBB began to proliferate by 2000, spawning creative and niche communities, giving people a means to share ideas without having to build websites or publish blogs. Reddit is a modern version of these forums.
Website publishing for the masses
WordPress was released in 2003, putting website development tools in the hands of common creators. This marked the democratization of publishing quality content on the web. You no longer needed to be a developer to create an attractive, functioning personal website!
Video for everyday creators
Hosting video on your own site was once very expensive, and videos were slow to load. In 2005, YouTube changed everything, giving creators a platform to publish their own videos. Vimeo and Dailymotion also helped to solve this huge infrastructure problem for creators.