Loyola’s Harappa

Have you seen an ancient site built for old boys of Loyola School? There is one at block 7744 in the Acropolis suburb of Athens. Ten years after the site was built, I dug up the place and here’s what I found.

Long long ago, circa 1996, Geocities.com was one of the most popular websites. It was also among the first webhosting services that allowed users to host webpages free-of-cost. If you wanted to build a site at Geocities, they would first ask you to pick a neighbourhood (“SiliconValley” for tech-related websites, “Hollywood” for entertainment-related websites). And just as your postal address carried your neighbourhood’s name, your web address too would.

It was in this world of Geocities that Mathew Joseph Pongonthara (1976), the school leader of his batch, decided to build a “cyberhome” for schoolmates. He appears to have been inspired by the other Loyola in his life — Loyola College, Chennai — whose old boys had set up an alumni website the previous year, and on which, Mathew had posted a comment.

The Loyola College alumni website was at Geocities, in the neighbourhood for education-related websites (“Athens”), on block 6166. Mathew built his school’s website in the same neighbourhood, but a few blocks away, in 7744. By the time Mathew decided to establish our school’s online presence, owners were required to choose a suburb too. Mathew chose “Acropolis” inside Athens.

Thus the two Loyola websites had strikingly similar addresses.
http://www.geocities.com/athens/6166/loyola.html
http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Acropolis/7744/LOYOLA.HTM

If you look under the hood — the source code of the school’s page — you will see that Mathew did not envisage the school’s webpage to be vanilla white. He seems to have wanted the same background design as his personal website. But the school site ended up having a plain, white background.

The Loyola College alumni website existed as early as July 1996 and has survived to this day. The school website appears to have come later — in August 1997 — but was not updated after October 1997.

The school site mentions a reunion held in the US; perhaps the idea of setting up the website was discussed in that reunion. To find out, this month I began my search for Mathew and a couple of old boys who might have attended that reunion (in 1997?), but efforts so far have drawn a blank. Webpages tell me that when Mathew is offline, he is in Canada. If Mathew or his friends read this, let us get in touch and fill the gaps in the story of Loyola’s rise on the internet. At loyolites.com, we love the past as much as the future.

3 Comments

  • hmm just one sentence
    the current loyola school site SUCKS
    really.. it shows us to belong to the 17th century or something… someone needs to work on it. bah

  • Ashok, in 1998 when i first logged on the internet and typed in ‘trivandrum’ in the search engine called altavista(the google of then!) the first entry it returned to me was loyola school and also quite a few from the 300 entries that followed!!! I don’t remember now if your Nobles website was that first search result, but i should say here that the Nobles site was a big inspiration for me and many others to build a presence on the internet for our respective batches.

    One of the most interesting search results for Loyola that I ever found on the net was in ’99-’00, the home page of one senior, Binu, which was hosted by Stanford University where he had a page dedicated to Fr.Pulickal with the caption, “Under the Tamarind’s Shade” and a class photo of I believe the 1988 batch for which Puli was the class teacher and a javascript code enabled around each of the boys’ heads when clicked would take you to a page with the clicked guy’s nickname and a humorous caption about him! I had it saved in my computer at home…if I find it when I go back, I will send it to you, to post here.

    As for loyola on the internet, the best comment i read ever, was a fellow holy angeles blogger telling another of her ilk…”seems like loyolites have taken over blogosphere like no other school”! It will be great to see if we could dig out the first initiatives on the net and know where it all started from!

  • The photo that Jiby mentioned is here in the internet archive. Binu K. Mathew (1989), then at the University of Utah was the person behind it. A history of the NOBLES site has been written in pompous fashion (by me!) on the NOBLES website itself. For the earliest websites, see this old guide to Loyola alumni on the Web.

    Blogging has resulted in widespread presence of Loyola alumni on the internet. And yes, some of the best comments are by non-Loyolites on the Loyola blogs. People like Fr Pulickal and Ms Deepa Pillai are known to people who haven’t seen Loyola!

    I had hoped to make loyolites.com a kind of portal, but for that, we need a volunteer with technical knowledge (PHP, MySQL) for 3-4 days of work.

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