Remember “web rings”? They popped up in the early- and mid-1990’s and offered a way for people to find information related to a particular topic. For example, you might want to find several web sites related to Tolkien’s writing (yes, I often visited the Tolkien Ring), or wedding planning, or car repair, or any of a thousand other topics. The rings were terrific for the surfer because the sites were right there, all linked from a single page. They were also terrific for the people running the sites, because a lot of visitors came from the rings and thus it was a good way to drive traffic to a site that might otherwise be lost in the web.

However, as search engines came into their own, the need for rings dropped drastically. When I can go to Google and type “Tolkien” into the box, I get 31 million pages. Sure, not all of them may be relevant, so I’d narrow my search a bit, but the point is I can find what I need with a few words and clicks. There’s really no need to have rings any more, yet they persist. Strange. Maybe the owners of the ring sites are hanging on to an antiquated business model, hoping to convince site owners to pay them a nominal listing fee, or maybe the site owners themselves aren’t terribly educated about the search engines, and think they need to be part of a ring (or several) to get traffic.

Either way, it’s interesting. The web evolves– daily, almost– yet we still see things that were a good idea a decade ago but are largely useless today.

Now if I could just get my Gopher client working again… ahh, good times.