Open directories are the only interesting places left on the Internet


Image: Shutterstock / Composition: Jason Koebler

Today’s internet looks more and more like cable TV, and less like the endless well of discovery it did, say, 10 years ago. Browse Reddit, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, repeat. Our walled gardens keep directing us to these platforms and just like cable there is new content every day, but the channels stay the same.

I was able to regain some of the wonder I used to feel surf the Internet thanks to a newly rediscovered love of open directories. Open directories are the digital equivalent of a garage sale or thrift store. These are, literally, lists of direct links to files, many (but not all) of which are unnecessary junk.

An open repertoire of stencils for carving pumpkins.

Open directories are folders of files that are uploaded to a web server somewhere, usually so that they can be linked elsewhere on the Internet in a much more searchable and navigable way. If I had a website called jason.com, jason.com/files is where I would put the images and videos I want to show on the homepage. But if you go directly to that address, you’ll only see a long list of links, with no clear idea of ​​each, unless I’ve used very descriptive file names.

In fact, they are not even really websites, these are default folders that you use when uploading files via FTP or hosting items on the internet that you may or may not want to link to.

Open directories can be, but not always are, a vulnerability or an oversight: Many large agencies and businesses have simply left sensitive data open to anyone who knows where to look. For example, Georgia left the state’s voter database and passwords used by election officials to log into a central server exposed in a directory opened last year.

I’m not very interested in finding sensitive information, but open directories are also used by people to share large batches of miscellaneous files. A subdirectory dedicated to modestly open directory links to thousands of those directories not protected by password. , Pumpkin Carving Stencil PDF. Because links in open directories are text-based, every click is a new adventure. You might know what you get when you click on the “mario.pdf” stencil, but what about “tesla.pdf?” The scientist or the car? No way to know until you click.

For some reason I find open directories fascinating, a sort of archaeological dig through simpler times on the Internet. May they never go away.


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