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Aleph history

Having been established in 1999, the William Gibson aleph website has since undergone a number of changes. To view a screenshot of the previous designs, please click on the thumbnail. ¶

Version 1 - December 1999

I started off realizing that there was no really good William Gibson page out in the net, or rather most of them were old and uninformative. So I decided to collect all accessible info on the net and compile a really comprehensive site. This was one of the very first drafts which already had the basic design, which was obviously inspired by the Voyager edition (see second picture). The 'ugly P's' (paragraph symbols ¶) that some people hate so much were also present. The home page didn't have any structure yet, all the texts were ripped off other web sites, I still had to re-read all the books, write summaries etc. The whole project was endangered very early in the process when in February 2000 my angry ex-girlfriend deleted the files on my computer (I managed to recover them though). I got my first visitors at the end of January (probably friends). ¶

Version 2 - March 2000

Well this already shows some progress. I submitted and was admitted to the William Gibson webring, which started to bring in a few visitors. I was still using my old email address, and updating the site (which was hosted by the now defunct Go.com) was by HTML upload through the browser, not FTP. I got my first email comment on the site in March which already honored the aleph as 'one of the best overall Gibson web sites on the net'. As you can see, there were already lots of (illegal) downloads but the server was really bad, cutting off the last few KB. Visitor numbers still lingered at about 20 per week. ¶

Version 3 - July 2000

This was a really work-intensive time because I had the crazy idea to create a German and Japanese translation of the whole site and keep them updated. Well the Japanese pages had only around four or five translated pages, and the language version updates used to lag behind a few weeks. I liked the looks (especially of the Japanese version) but it was just over my head. In summer I moved to the (now also defunct) 8op.com freespace provider. Around that time I also started to use Dreamweaver 3 to edit the pages instead of notepad.exe which I used from the start. Visitors were around 500 per month at the end of 2000. Then, at the end of December, I actually got a listing in Yahoo! which roughly quadrupled the visitor numbers. Mails also started to come in larger numbers, and many interesting conversations followed. Many people contributed texts etc. to the site, I also managed to put up a MP3 copy of the Neuromancer audio book and other goodies. The pages still had the old menu system at the top which was a bitch to update. ¶

Version 3 German - February 2001

Version 3 Japanese - February 2001

Version 4 - July 2001

I switched the navigation to frames and a mouseover-menu system which solved some problems but brought up many others. Some guy created a full Hungarian (!) translation of the site which eventually was on-line for only about six months (see below). I had still added more etexts for downloading but after copyright trouble with one of the movie scripts I decided to take down everything still in print, which left only a few downloads left. I registered my domain antonraubenweiss.com but kept the aleph pages on the free server which turned out to be a very bad idea later. Anyway, I had info on Pattern Recognition on the site pretty early, and overall feedback was very positive. Visitor numbers stayed at around 5000 per month. ¶

Version 4 German - December 2001

Version 4 Japanese - December 2001

Version 5 - January 2002

I finally decided to cut down on work time on the site when I went to Japan in October 2001, which ment discarding the language versions. Keeping an FAQ (version 3) also reduced some of the 'do you have Gibson's email-adress' kind of mail, while spam continued to flow in. Everything could have been fine with 6000-8000 visitors a month, when in July the 8op server went down over night and left the links to the site dead. This immediately cost me the Yahoo listing and cut the visitor numbers by at least half. Hosting the whole stuff on my webspace (including the huge image gallery) cost me hours of recoding links, and also brought in additional traffic cost - but at least now the site has become ad-free. I continued to scour the web for book cover images, which increased the gallery size to 300 in mid-2002 and over 400 at the end of 2002. Then, visitor numbers had stabilized, Google ranked my #1 for most searches, and the year 2002 alone had brought in 50,000 visitors. ¶

Version 6 - January 2003

The new design removed the annoying mouseOver menu, which took much too long to load (over 60 KB for the menu only). Browser compatibility should also have improved since I switched from Internet Explorer to Opera 6.0, which is a much better browser. The home page now comes in a stylish white, while the rest of the pages remained in their original design. Most pages were simplified to facilitate browsing. I also restructured the image gallery, which already included more than 400 images. There were quite a few incidents during the year 2003: First, in May, Gibson pointed out in his official blog that the photograph on my homepage was not his, but that of Douglas Coupland (read the blog entry here). Then in June my notebook computer was stolen, so I had a pretty hard time begging friends for computer parts. At the end of 2003 , there was not much going on at the site, the number of emails had also declined because of the official William Gibson web site and discussion board. But thanks to Ebay and Google the number of images in the gallery increased to almost 700. ¶

Current Version 6.5 - April 2004-March 2009

The fourth anniversary of the site passed mainly unnoticed and without a lot of changes or updates. After Mr Gibson stopped blogging in September 2003 everybody seemed to be waiting for news on the next novel. April 2004 saw the Aleph cross the 200,000th visitor line, while the image gallery kept growing. Incoming mail about the site or Gibson is greatly reduced compared to before, since most Gibsonites gather around the official forum these days. Gibson actually started his blog again shortly before the 2004 presidential election ('At times, to be silent means to lie'). The blog continued until September 2005, when Gibson stopped because he "can't simultaneously write a novel and blog" - high hopes for the next novel. December 2005, which marked the 6th anniversary of the site, saw the site mainly unchanged since I had been busy with another web page (Expo 2005 photo essays) most of the year. Even though a lot of time has passed, I found two old versions of my site on previous web hosts (at Angelfire and, even older, at Fortunecity) - now completely cluttered in thick layers of competing internet ads. ¶

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