In honor of Codecademy’s 11th anniversary, we’re looking back at the 2000s websites and software that influenced our founders to build Codecademy — and inspired a generation to learn to code. Explore other fun deep dives into early aughts internet topics here.
ICYMI, for Codecademy’s 11th anniversary celebration we’re giving you a crash-course in the internet of the 2000s and paying tribute to the websites and software that defined a generation of technologists.
When thinking about iconic early aughts internet trends, most people’s minds go right to AIM and Myspace. And while these sites introduced groundbreaking ideas for the time, there are two other important sites that set the stage for platforms like Facebook and YouTube: HOTorNOT and Facemash.
A brief history of HOTorNOT and Facemash
Back in 2000, software engineers in Silicon Valley coded a website called HOTorNOT, where people could upload photos of themselves and have strangers rate their “hotness” on a scale from 1 to 10. It’s hard to imagine this shamelessly simple website getting greenlit (let alone becoming popular) today — but at the time, it was broadly considered okay. HOTorNOT’s runaway success was a pivotal moment for the internet.
Keep in mind that this was before Tinder and Facebook existed, so the idea of sharing photos and inviting a dialogue — about non-famous people’s looks nonetheless — was novel. “Everything about HOTorNOT was about wanting to cultivate the idea of a two-way web, finding ways to connect people,” co-founder James Hong told Mashable in 2020. “We really saw ourselves as trying to build the ultimate people router.”
Other programmers iterated on HOTorNOT’s premise and saw success. In 2003, a Harvard sophomore by the name of Mark Zuckerberg (ever heard of him?) hacked the school servers and coded a “prank website” called Facemash, which presented two headshots of students and invited users to vote on the more attractive photo. Facemash would go on to become Facebook.
Even the YouTube co-founders credited HOTorNOT for the idea for a video-sharing platform. “I was incredibly impressed with HOTorNOT, because it was the first time that someone had designed a website where anyone could upload content that everyone else could view,” YouTube co-founder Jawed Karim told TIME in 2006. “That was a new concept because up until that point, it was always the people who owned the website who would provide the content.”
How to code your own DOGorNOT app
The DOGorNOT mini app is tame compared to its predecessors. To play, click the photo that you believe is a dog (harder than it sounds!), and see if you guessed correctly.
Want to code your own DOGorNOT-inspired game? First, check out this workspace to peek at the code Jiwon Shin, Codecademy Senior Curriculum Developer, used to make it. Anyone with a free Codecademy login can access an IDE to experiment building apps like this in workspaces.
HTML organizes and displays the site’s content:
- Just basic HTML here; no complex HTML tags required
CSS gives the site its the recognizable ‘00s aesthetic:
- Basic CSS styling
- Responsive styles using relative units
- Custom fonts using
- CSS functions:
url()to use custom cursors and
calc()to calculate the width of images