How-To Geek: The Web Before the Web: A Look Back at Gopher. “Before the rapid growth of the World Wide Web in the 1990s, a protocol called Gopher briefly made the internet easy to use by combining the world’s online resources. Here’s what made it special, and why it was quickly eclipsed by the web.”
Interesting Engineering: A Brief History of Computing and the Web: From 17th Century Computers to Today’s Digital Empires. “Today, most of us depend heavily on the Internet, for everything from work, to managing our finances, answering correspondences, or our social lives. The applications of the web are both endless and vital to modern life. While many of us have been online since the 1990s, the history of computing stretches back even far further – and after all, without computing, there can be no web. In fact, the first primitive computing devices were conceived as long ago as the 17th Century, with the earliest concepts for programmable computers emerging in the mid-19th Century.” Extensive article, chockablock with links.
Mashable: Best of the nice internet in 2020, so far. “We’re officially halfway through 2020 and it’s, uh, not great, Bob! Between the global pandemic and the massive social unrest, many of us are left anxious without much to do but…stare at our screens and become more anxious. In addition to being a hellscape, the internet is — thankfully — also always home to some wholesomeness, no matter what’s going on IRL. Here’s some niceness that’ll keep you going throughout the rest of the year (well, hopefully):”
CNET: Before the cats came: The web of 1995 leaves me nostalgic for simpler times. “My web circa 1995 will always be three sites: Suck, Argon Zark and the T.W.I.N.K.I.E.S Project. Put up by two Rice University students to document their experiments to determine the properties of Twinkies, the T.W.I.N.K.I.E.S Project was text heavy, with cheesy graphics and tiny photos. Ugly, but full of smarts, character and innocent charm. And a quarter of a century later, the homespun site still makes me , even if the only way to see it is in the Internet Archive.”
Mashable: Reddit turns 15: The dramatic moments that shaped the internet’s front page. “It may seem like it has been part of the internet landscape forever, but Reddit — which turns 15 Tuesday — is a mere teenager. An uncoordinated, gangly teenager that still struggles with its size, its group of friends, and truly damning content in its browser history.”
CNET: When Hollywood finally noticed the web: What it got right and oh so wrong. “It began in May 1995 with the release of Johnny Mnemonic, a delirious sci-fi action dystopia matching Keanu Reeves with seminal cyberpunk author William Gibson. In July, Sandra Bullock had her identity erased in conspiracy thriller The Net. In August, Denzel Washington pursued Russell Crowe’s computer-generated serial killer in Virtuosity, and in September Angelina Jolie found her breakthrough role in anarchic adventure Hackers. In October, Kathryn Bigelow served up dystopian thriller Strange Days.”
1843 Magazine: The internet, mon amour. “Thirty-five years ago the internet was a fantasia, to be slipped into like Narnia, at the back of a shameful closet, out of sight of grown-ups. Though socially distanced, you could fall in love and have your heart broken there, but it was all your own very secret, very eccentric crisis. Now, by order of the state government, my daylight hours are supersaturated by the uniformly high-noon screen of my Macbook, as far from my Zenith interface as a craggy cave wall is from glossy magazine paper. I crave the time when the internet was a lacuna in regular existence, and not the entirety of it.”
New York Times: Meet Your Meme Lords. “Future researchers can rest easy: Know Your Meme, Urban Dictionary, Creepypasta and Cute Overload have all been preserved by the Library of Congress. So has the band website for They Might Be Giants and the entire published output of The Toast, the humor site that shut down in 2016. And while the Library of Congress owns a rare print copy of the Gutenberg Bible, the web archive features the LOLCat Bible Translation Project, which rendered the bible in LOLspeak.”
Impact: Google Plus: Why it shut down and what marketers need to do without it. “Google Plus was not Google’s first attempt to enter the social media landscape. Other failed attempts had come before it (anyone remember Google Buzz?), but in the summer of 2011, Google launched Google Plus hoping to stand out from the competition.” Nice overview.
BetaNews: The Dark Web turns 20 this month. “While we’re all being encouraged to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ as we wash our hands to ward off the COVID-19 virus, you might like to know that you can sing it to the Dark Web, which turns 20 this month. To mark the occasion digital risk management company Groupsense hasn’t baked a cake but it has produced an infographic of the Dark Web’s timeline.”
Slate: Meet One of the Earliest Victims of Internet Bullying. “Like me, [Alex] Lunney graduated from high school in 1996. We were both born between Generation X and the millennials (Generation Catalano, as Slate has called us), a cohort that entered high school with limited internet access at best, but used it frequently by the time we were in college. But Lunney’s relationship with the internet is unique even for a member of our mini-generation. He was one of the first high-profile victims of cyberbullying, though we didn’t use the term back then—it wasn’t enough of a thing to have a name.”
The Register: Yo, Imma let you finish, but for the 6,000 people still using that app on a daily basis … we have a question: why? . “Yo was a joke that quickly died down. Users moved on. [Moshe] Hogeg moved on. Except, it wasn’t. Not quite. According to mobile analytics house Apptopia, 6,000 people still use Yo on a daily basis. More curiously, the app was downloaded 16,200 times in the month of January across the Apple and Android app stores.”
Slate: Did the Early Internet Activists Blow It?. “I no longer think that tolerance of disruptive speech is invariably the best answer, although, even now, I believe it’s typically the best first response. I also think the too-much-free-speech folks are being shortsighted themselves, because we’ve entered an era in which we need more disintermediated free speakers and free speech, not less.”
Wired: Wikipedia Is the Last Best Place on the Internet. “Today, Wikipedia is the eighth-most-visited site in the world. The English-language version recently surpassed 6 million articles and 3.5 billion words; edits materialize at a rate of 1.8 per second. But perhaps more remarkable than Wikipedia’s success is how little its reputation has changed. It was criticized as it rose, and now makes its final ascent to … muted criticism.”
Ars Technica: ’90s nostalgia: Dancing Baby does the cha-cha once more in new HD rendering. “Internet denizens of a certain age will recall with fondness the 3D animated Dancing Baby (aka “Baby Cha-Cha” and “the Oogachacka Baby”) that went viral in 1996. Sure, the rendering was crude by today’s standards and—it must be said—a little creepy, but in many ways, the Dancing Baby was a proto-meme. Now, almost 25 years after it was first created, an enterprising college student has re-rendered the original model and animation in a suitable HD format for modern displays.” When that baby first came out, my mother tried to email the video of him from her corporate network to my little lame desktop computer. Gave it — the computer, not the baby — a severe case of indigestion.