Today marks what would have been the 5th anniversary of the old East Screen West Screen podcast and just over five years since the formation of Kong-Cast.com. It is also very close to another anniversary of a website now gone and nearly forgotten.
Some of you may not know that this site was not my first foray into throwing content about Hong Kong up on the web. Back in the mid 90s, I had experimented with a doing an audio program using real media files of myself talking about and playing Cantonese music from Andy Lau, Anita Mui and other personal favorites. The Internet was young and Napster wasn’t really a thing yet. I think I recorded and uploaded 3 episodes before the site in question (a Geocities site for all you old-time web 1.0-ers out there) was promptly shut down. Neither bandwidth nor copyright, as it applied to the Internet, was really a part of my vocabulary at the time. Ah the inanity of youth!
By 1999 I was back at school studying my B.A. Asian Studies at F.S.U. At that point my love for Hong Kong films had been going on for over a decade. Knowing this, my Mandarin language professor at the time implanted the idea of creating a review website for Chinese movies and thus was my 2nd venture into content creation on the web born. Perhaps it was a kind of Chinese soft power inception, but needless to say it served as the catalyst for where I am today.
So with the promptings of my Chinese professor in mind I went about setting up my own review site and slowly built it up over time. And thus was (the now long defunct site) CantonKid.com born.
All that remains of the CantonKid site today is a backup folder with the original HTML architecture. In the mid 2000s I lost the site domain name in a rather unscrupulous squatter jump by the webhost I was using at the time. But that’s a rather lengthy story, perhaps best saved for another time.
The site was done using frames (anyone still remember those?), so it doesn’t even display properly on modern browsers. The core content is still there though, and some have even asked if I might ever repost it, but going back and looking at that now is a bit like reading an old essay or early novel draft, where you just shake your head at the horrendousness of it all.
So, after feeling a bit nostalgic, last week I decided to do a Google search to see if there was still any mention of the old site lying around in some long forgotten recesses of virtual data-space. What I uncovered shocked me for a moment. I actually found mention of the site in the book, Once Upon A Time in China: A Guide to Hong Kong, Taiwanese and Mainland Cinema by Jeff Yang. It’s a book I even have on my shelves, but had not ever read through to the back pages of. The surreal nature of seeing the site that I had created mentioned in published print was only surpassed by the honor I felt at being included in with so many of the early webmasters that I have grown to admire, some of whom I am now blessed to be able to call friends. It seems odd that something which has long vanished, save for a few faint echoes, still resonates somehow in the work that I do or the relationships that sprang from it. I guess the Internet is kinda funny like that.