What’s something from the Golden Age of the Internet that younger people will never understand or experience?

What’s something from the Golden Age of the Internet that younger people will never understand or experience?

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  1. people not being able to pretend to know everything

    it was nice, now everyone on any social media sees a topic, googles it and comes back an ‘expert’

    “oh yes it’s quite common knowledge that the zebra has a phillantris that opens and expells extra bifiderals. What kind of idiot doesnt know that” – reddit today

  2. Chat rooms, a/s/l, that free trial of AOL coming in the mail, Myspace, being the only friend with the computer who can burn CDs with songs you illegally download

  3. Mother. Fucking. Pop-ups.

    Every site you went to blew up with windows of some of the most ridiculous things ever. The obvious “CONGRATULATIONS YOUR OUR DAILY WINNER” scams and all that really got bad and preyed on people new to the whole internet thing. Chat rooms in their early days were a neat feature, but the ability to be who you wanted to be versus who you were took over and people were living two different lives.

    Oh, and giving the family computer aids because you really wanted to download that KORN song. Worth it.

  4. A non-corporate internet.

    It’s been slowly getting more and more corporate over the years, but it’s suddenly exploded ever since smart phones put the internet in our pockets. The internet used to be a completely level playing field because no one knew what to make of it. The Brands didn’t see it as profitable in the short-term, so aside from some online advertising excursions, they mostly kept away. Places like Reddit, 4Chan, Youtube, they all used to be great because The Brands and The Investors weren’t as involved, and places were allowed to do what they wanted.

    Nowadays, there is so very little left of the internet that is non-corporate. YouTube isn’t YOU-tube anymore (hasn’t been for years). Every time a remotely-popular internet site shows up, one of The Brands buys it, guts it, and it fades. Companies are astroturfing memes to give them free advertisement (see the F&F “Family” memes that just blew up and then died over the course of the movie’s marketing window). Even image boards and forums like Reddit aren’t safe anymore. In some ways, this isn’t a bad thing, but in a lot of ways, it’s not a good thing either.

  5. How long you had to wait to see a video or a flash animation. Even sites for animations themselves, the birthplaces of memes 😀 It was a way different feel

  6. I remember the early internet … there was far less commerce taking place. This is before any big retailers had websites. You couldn’t buy anything over the internet. It was used to share information, and that was pretty much it.

  7. Usenet.

    It’s not that the tech was all that different (essentially a library of message threads), but because very few members of the general public were online during its heyday, the level of discourse was (mostly) more scholarly and more civil.

  8. As a teen early on I miss the summer nights chatting away on yahoo chat, or teenchat.net. I miss having the multiple messengers (MSN, ICQ,AOL) and chatting to my friends, or random people I met in the chat rooms. I always remember a time sitting there on the computer as the daylight faded through a crack in my curtains on a summer night. Simpler times.

  9. People not being afraid. Not being scared that your data was being harvested for sinister reason by shady entities, not being afraid to be doxxed, not being afraid of opinions and ideas, of the nazi psycho killer on the page next door …

    The internet today is a war zone compared to how it was. I remember as a kid being on a forum dedicated to medieval war machines (age of empires got me started), and people posting their mailing addresses all the time so people could send blueprints to each other.

  10. Geocities. I had a friend on there and we reconnected, 20 years later, on Facebook. E-mail groups. I remember talking about if a Spider-man movie was ever going to be made. E-Wrestlng / EFeds. Those were fun if you were creative and had time to write.

  11. Fan rings (I think that’s what they were called) back in 1996 where you could just go from one fan site to another about your favorite band and download pictures, read song lyrics, and learn random facts about them. I visited so many Smashing Pumpkins geocities pages …

  12. When you searched for something you either got legitimate hits immediately, or the topic wasn’t yet online and nothing would come up. No going through pages of junk or ads or “sponsored content” to get what you wanted.

    Or actually, that’s not totally true. A lot of times porn would come up for any innocent search, but in general, most academic topics you search would have immediate results “if” the topic were online. Not academics was yet online so it could be hit or miss and you didn’t know yet until you tried. But you knew right away.

  13. I had an entire binder of pages related to marijuana. Recipes, poems, instructions for a variety of things, many legalization related articles. This was 1997, I was afraid all that great information wouldn’t stay on the internet so I printed it all. I still have the notebook I think, I believe it’s in the attic.

  14. The sound of dial up. Hearing it connect and then playing a few rounds of Doom or Quake with friends over the internet was amazing. The games were small and intimate and always a good time.

  15. As a kid, I remember CompuServe. You paid per minute and there was a timer showing how long you’d been on. There was no video or audio (although it’s possibly MIDI files could have been on there, but I don’t remember seeing them) and it took me about six minutes to download one single black and white photo from a news story. Back then, the story was all text with links to pictures.

    It took so long, I never attempted to do this again.

  16. I was in college in the late 90s so I clearly remember when the internet blew up. One of the craziest things was the variety. Nowadays you can go on just about any of the billons of websites out there and they all have a pretty standard layout. Not so in the olden days. In fact, some web designers seemed to really go out of their way to make their shit as difficult to navigate as possible.

    But really, back then it was like a more “Wild West” type field. Only young people and tech savvy people were online with a few outliers as exceptions. You never really had to worry to much if you were talking to a little kid or a weirdo during the very first few years. But holy fuck once those weirdos realized that they could interact with the world completely anonymously there was short period between the extreme early days and where we are now where shit was both dark and a little edgy and weird. I think that’s part of the early internet experience a lot of people from back then don’t really talk about. Nowadays everyone expects “Dick Pics” in their DMs but imagine what it was like to be the first person to get an unsolicited dick pic or be the first person to be catfished.

  17. The joy of mods that weren’t total dicks. Old school moderators on these small Indy forums (before Reddit) were happy to have anyone and mostly kept spam at bay.

    Interested in motorcycles? Nobody would kick you off of /r/motorcycles or whatever for participating in ~~/r/cagers~~ /r/cars. People used to be nicer on interest forums, now people just seem to be a bunch of rule Karen’s.

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