Sunday, March 9, 2014

Internet Nostalgia


Whatever happened to the days when the internet was wild and free--a world where anything was possible as long as you built it yourself?  Do you yearn for that long lost world of chaos, link farms, and blinking page backgrounds; a place where anyone's page could be one of the top search results?  Don't you miss an internet that was a true maze of unknown worlds to explore and where no one knew you were a dog?  It didn't matter if you were a multibillion dollar corporation or a seven year old kid.  No one knew how this new world would work and everyone seemed to have an equal chance to grab and hold attention.  There was largely a spirit of cooperation as you built.  People helped each other and while there were trolls out there, they weren't prolific enough that anyone felt the need to create a name for trolling yet.  It was what Asimov called a cusp time--anything was possible.

On the other hand, the old internet was static and along with the chaos came....well chaos.  Search engine results?  No one had a particularly great algorithm yet for searching through the mounds of stuff.  EVERYTHING was there, but where?  Link farms existed because we needed them.   Because anyone who played with terms and configuration long enough could optimize a site to be a top search result, the results were comparatively meaningless.  Also it was SLOW.  I mean we were listening to midi files for crying out loud.  Not because this was the best we could do as far as digital media went either.  We had mp3s, they just took hours to download.....

What have we made of the internet?  Is it a better place now or worse?  For me the answer is ... both.  Of course that may be a cop out, but I think it's true.  We have lost some of the wild west and renaissance spirit while gaining order, technical advancement, and maturity.   This means I can now watch streaming video, but also that net neutrality is going out the window as isps have inexorably moved from AOL vs a myriad of small local startups to the mega corporations of Comcast and Time Warner vs no one at all.  It means that Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr et al have codified a place and language for people to use to communicate but in providing and codifying this, they have defined, shaped, and proscribed the conversation and experience itself--possibilities which were there are now gone or at least less likely for the time being.  Power seems to tend towards amalgamation.  With that comes order and sometimes expanded technology, but also loss of freedom, higher prices (for access) and, a different kind of danger.

What do you think of the progression of the internet since the early days?

While you're thinking.... do you remember any of this?  


  1. Of course "Twitchy" below is proof that there is still an element of chaos on our 'more mature' internet.....but who needs counter examples right? :)

  2. Ah!!!! I do remember it! My little volcano.
    I would say it is better overall. There are negativities about Internet development just like we lost some culture in the dying of the Wild West. But I think we can agree that the John Wayne and similar films are enough to remind those who like it of the good old times. These little videos capture the goodness of yesteryear Internet

  3. And thanks for searching those out Dad :D