Slow News Day

by Charles Miller on March 3, 2009

From Slate, a rather silly article: Jurassic Web, the unrecognizable Internet of 1996.

It’s 1996, and you’re bored. What do you do? If you’re one of the lucky people with an AOL account, you probably do the same thing you’d do in 2009: Go online. Crank up your modem, wait 20 seconds as you log in, and there you are…

I started thinking about the Web of yesteryear after I got an e-mail from an idly curious Slate colleague: What did people do online back when Slate launched, he wondered? After plunging into the Internet Archive and talking to several people who were watching the Web closely back then, I've got an answer: not very much.

Yes, it's true. Back in 1996 the Web was new and everyone used AOL. Therefore there was nothing to do on the Internet.

From my perspective, the annoying thing about the modern Internet is how a combination of the web and proprietary protocol land-grabs has killed, or at least stunted further development of potentially better solutions. For example, the constant refrain around the Atlassian office is that no RSS client is even remotely as useful as a decade-old Usenet newsreader.

Oh, and get off my lawn you damn kids.

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