Cue the Alice Cooper music, 'cause it's eighteen! That's how many years it has been since the day my website, Rarebird's Rock and Roll Rarity Reviews, first "went live" on May 31, 1999. Even though a zillion things have changed since then, it's hard for me to believe it's been that many years since I first began to build the website. Anyone who was born the same day or year as my site is now becoming a legal adult!

"Adulthood" may or may not be a good analogy for the site, because I shudder to think about how old the site may be in website years. In recent months, I've felt more future shock than usual about the age of my site. Personal websites like mine have become "rare birds" in themselves due to their decline in popularity since 2004 or so, when the growth of blogs (like the one you are reading now) and social media resulted in easier ways for people to express themselves on the internet.

Personally, I've never thought of my blog or my Twitter feed as replacements for the original website. Instead, both were meant to be extensions and accessories to the site. When I first started this blog at the end of 2004 -- over 12 years ago already! -- it was mainly for the purpose of adding side notes related to the site; when I discovered Twitter in 2009, a saw it as a convenient shorthand means of doing the same thing. The original website eventually became much larger in size than I had originally envisioned it, so this blog has since become the more sensible means of adding new content.

I've certainly been aware of the decline of personal websites. In fact, another seems-like-yesterday moment came seven years ago, when I needed to change hosting services because my original provider stopped offering personal web page services, as many other providers have also done. But it came to my further attention recently that so many websites that used to link to my site -- and vice versa -- have disappeared from the web. And, in most cases, they probably disappeared many years ago, as have many other personal websites that were once fashionable in the '90's and early '00's.

For example: when I recently thought to check out the T. Rex webring at yourtakeonmusic.com (formerly known as Webring.org), which I had all but forgotten existed, I saw that my T. Rex Review page had become a big fish in a now-very-small pond. The main reason: most of the other sites that once made up that webring no longer exist, and most of the few that still do have clearly been abandoned, apparently for a decade or more. (In fact, you may well be asking, "What exactly is a webring, anyway?". I'll let this site explain it).

One other site that still shows up on that T. Rex webring is The T.O.M.B., a once-glorious list of links to Marc Bolan resources that once existed on the web. Sadly, The T.O.M.B. now seems more like a graveyard of dead links, especially in the category at the top of the page labeled as "World Wide Web Sites - Personal & Global Review Sites". The titles and descriptions of most of those sites now read like epitaphs on tombstones. To add to the sadness of the experience, at least one of those outdated links led me to a malware site, so always be careful where you tread when you visit a virtual cemetery such as that one. If you go far enough down the page, you will find some links that are still active and interesting, but much of the T.O.M.B. -- especially the Personal Sites part -- is like an eerie ghost town.

One possible factor may be less interest in that particular artist at this point, because it has now been 40 years since Marc Bolan's untimely death in 1977. But other attempts to find old-school personal websites -- especially ones that are music-related -- had similar results. One of the better experiences I had came by way of the DMOZ Open Directory Project, shortly before it closed down this past March. It still contained some links to personal sites that I remember from years ago, but not nearly as many as in the past. Surprisingly, a good number of the linked sites were still online, and it was fun to visit still-extant fan sites dedicated to such '90's one-hitters as Juliana Hatfield, the New Radicals, and Meredith Brooks. Of course, the content of these sites usually reveals that they have not been updated since the aughts. If you feel any nostalgia for those days, then the still-functional DMOZ mirror site may be your last chance to web-surf like it's 1999.

After these experiences, I began to question if my own site was just an antique Web 1.0 dinosaur awaiting extinction. And my answer to that was: Absolutely not! Aside from adding a banner to the homepage which proudly states that the site has been "Online since '99", I am not going to continue looking back; I am now only going to move forward. Among other things, I've taken steps to ensure that the site is mobile-friendly -- which many older personal sites are not. I've recently updated the look of this blog as well. And, of course, this blog is where most new updates will continue to appear.

And what about the subject matter? Some of the individual artist-related pages on my site have become somewhat dated, but I don't plan to delete any of them. About a decade ago, I thought the overall theme of my site would soon become dated altogether, as vinyl records finally seemed to have become obsolete, CD's were seen as being on their way out, and digital music services were putting brick-and-mortar music stores out of business. And then, something wonderful and unexpected happened: the vinyl resurgence! Who would have thought back then that there would soon be something called Record Store Day, and that the tradition would still be going strong ten years after it began? I think these events have helped my website and blog continue to make sense in the modern world.

The bottom line is: I hope to be able to keep my site and my blog online for years to come. I'm happy to have kept my site alive while so many others have disappeared, and I want it to continue to stick around for as long as possible. It's eighteen and I like it! Thanks for all of your support.