I used to chat at a website called the Park and this is not the first mention of The Park on my site). This is not news to many (and this is not the first mention of it on my site). Several of my friends on IM or Mypsace/Facebook are from the Park day when I was a wee lass of 13/14. -chuckles- The park was magnificent in its way. It attracted millions of visitors so a site that would be shamed by even the worst sites of the internet today; it was, after all, a completely product of Web 1.0. That would also be its downfall and The Park would succumb (around 2000) to the big dot com bust and not without some well-earned hatred to the Park’s founder, Brent Hunter.
A lot of the chatters who had grown to love The Park and made lifelong friendships and relationships there went on to other similar sites, most notably The Pork, where I still chat but also including Dockwave, Ozpark and Ties That Bind. None of these sites would ever see the sheer numbers of the Park, though.
Fast forward a few years and Brent is back with a new project – The Earth Comm Center – and while I think Mr Hunter had different intentions for it than his earlier project, Park followers flocked to it as a way to relive the golden age and to find or catch up with old friends. In that way, it worked marvelously. For a while, at least, until the same issues happened with Brent and chatters and volunteers became disgruntled and slanders his not-so-good-anyway name and left the site. Some followed. Many didn’t.
But then something else happened: Brent disappeared. Though the site never saw the success of its predecessor, it did bring together some people who had been torn apart by the Park’s unfortunate demise and it was clung to as a last hope for some who wished to someday know other reunions. Brent’s disappearance brought with it a lack of upkeep on the site and, eventually (late 2007), the site ceased functioning correctly; that is, no one could log in anymore. Though the site still stands, show statistics and appears to function in many other ways, no one can actually use it for any purpose.
A lot of people find this amusing, even expected. Brent doesn’t have a good track record or a good way with people, it seems. Still, it is a loss that I, among others, mourn a bit. I had caught up with some friends via ECC, including one who was, at the time, deployed to Iraq. We have since lost contact because the site no longer works. )=
Where are you Brent Hunter?
This is all fresh in my memory because I was talking to an old friend from the Park today and, as always happens with those old friends, the conversation turns to questions like “Do you still talk to anyone?” or “Do you remember this person?” And I always feel a tinge of nostalgia because the people that I talk to and remember are far less in number than I would prefer.
And I don’t know how to find them again. Sites like Myspace or Reunion.com allow you to find people when you do know a lot of information about them but the friends one makes in chat, even if one knows their heart and soul, may never release vital information like birth date, home town or last name.
Even Brent has a few websites up which direct the visitor to chat rooms whose core is made up of ex Park chatters but it’s not the same. I began wondering why there isn’t some type of site that allows people to reunite with others from online, with search criteria different than e-mail, age or location which you might not know. Perhaps just a giant bulletin board located at “Find People From The Park.com”.
Alas, searching for those specific people is all but impossible online and searching for the masses is an insurmountable task. If I had control of The Park domains (still own by Brent) I would redirect people to the Pork (which he refuses to link) or to the Myspace group (created by myself) or the Facebook group (created by Sara) so that we would all reconnect.
As it stands, searching for sites about the Park is limited. Eventually, my Myspace group shows up and there appears to be a single Yahoo!Answers question asking if anyone remembers. Links to Brent’s now defunct websites are what show up immediately. It doesn’t seem like many people have taken the time out to put something online to say “Hey, I was there! I remember! I miss you Bob! Where are you Jane?”
So I guess this is my way of creating something a little more permanent, in case someone else is searching and finds my site, maybe they’ll find a little more direction. And maybe, just maybe, I can find a little more closure.