Rhizome: First Look: The Thing BBS. “Founded by artist Wolfgang Staehle, The Thing made up just a few of the tens of thousands of BBSs that flourished in the years preceding the popularization of the public web, and it fostered a community that sought to experiment with cultural practices via telecommunications networks: writing and publishing, interacting with a community, performing an identity, and distributing art. Immediately preceding the rise of the public web, The Thing was an important forum where early ideas of online art were rehearsed. Despite its historical significance, much of its content has been inaccessible for years. Now, thanks to a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the New Museum’s digital art affiliate Rhizome has created a contextual archive of messages that were posted to The Thing.”
Motherboard: The Geocities Archive Is Bringing the Early Internet to Life. “Geocities was one of the first places your average person could make a website for free. The Geocities Gallery aims to archive these sites and return them to functionality, MIDIs and all.”
Lifehacker: How Can I Close Accounts for Old Services I Don’t Use Anymore . “In your decade(s) of internet use, you’ve probably created dozens, if not hundreds, of user accounts—for online retailers, gaming sites, messaging services, social media apps, and more. If you no longer want or need access to these accounts, take an afternoon to track down and delete what’s outdated.”
Boing Boing: The “One HTML Page Challenge”, a great example of view-source culture. “Behold the “One HTML Page Challenge” — to build a one-page site using just the code in a single html file: ‘Practice your skills with no assistance from libraries, no separation of files, and no assistance of a modern framework.'” Giving me all the nostalgic feels.
Ubergizmo: Chrome Will Soon Stop Supporting FTP Connections. “We’re not sure how many of you might remember, but back in the day, FTP servers were a popular way to host files online as well as to download them. These days, file hosting and downloading is done in a completely different manner, which is why it’s not surprising that Google has ultimately decided that they will soon stop supporting FTP connections in Chrome.”
National Library of New Zealand: Looking for Old Friends?. “Old Friends (www.oldfriends.co.nz) was a popular social networking website owned by Trade Me. Its purpose was to help people locate former school friends and workmates. Members who signed up to Old Friends could upload photos, post comments, contact each other and compile information for reunions. The site was launched in 2002 and finally closed in 2016. When Trade Me announced that they would be taking the site down, the National Library quickly got in touch to see if we could work together to harvest a copy of Old Friends for the Library’s collections.”
Ars Technica: EverQuest’s long, strange 20-year trip still has no end in sight. “Twenty years ago, a company in Southern California launched an online game that would go on to serve as the model for many more titles to come in the massively multiplayer online RPG (MMORPG) space. And unlike many games that sought to replace it over the years, this one is still going today. No, this isn’t about World of Warcraft—that game only turns 15 in 2019. Before there was WoW, there was the MMO pioneer EverQuest. This sword-and-sorcery-based game was developed by a small company, 989 Studios, but it eventually reached its pinnacle under Sony Online Entertainment after SOE acquired that studio roughly a year after the game’s launch. Today, EQ marches on with a dedicated player base and another developer, Daybreak Games, at the helm.” An astounding deep dive.
New-to-me, possibly a relaunch? TechAeris: The Version Museum aims to show you the history of some of the internets most famous websites. “Many of us have been using the internet for 20+ years and over those years we’ve seen the internet grow. Websites have become cleaner and more aesthetically pleasing and load times have decreased to mere seconds. But sometimes we forget what the internet looked like and how different it is from today. That’s where the Version Museum comes in.”
The Next Web: The SETI screensaver shows us what the internet could’ve been. “SETI@home is a long-term science project currently run by the Berkeley Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence Research Center at the University of California, Berkeley. It began in the early 1960s, when astronomers first began harvesting data from vast radio telescopes — like the one at Green Bank in West Virginia—to look for signs of life beyond Earth. The search and the science is much older than the screen saver, of course, which was released to the public in 1999 and still running today. But the screen saver has been directly helping that search for the past two decades.”
Slate, and let me say up front I don’t agree with the “blogging is dead” part (for obvious reasons): End the Tyranny of Arial. “After an era where customizability was the norm, we’ve now reached a period where everything we read online looks the same. Blogging is dead, and the current dominant social media platforms have settled on a unified look: Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages largely look the same. While Slack offers themes to change its default colors, and there are third-party apps to modify WhatsApp, there’s little you can do to change the look of messages you send.”
OneZero: Meet the People Who Still Have AOL Email Addresses. “…despite the rise of broadband and free email, both AOL and EarthLink have somehow managed to survive. It’s difficult to get up-to-date figures, since the two entities are now subsidiaries and barely register as a blip on their parent companies’ balance sheets. Neither company would disclose its current number of monthly subscribers, but as of 2014, more than 2.1 million people still used AOL dial-up.” Obviously I do not use dial-up, but I still have a Mindspring account I’ve had since ~1998. That email address is in some of my books and such and I’m reluctant to get rid of it. I should at some point.
The Verge: The World Wide Web Turns 30: Our Favorite Memories From A To Z. “Over the past 30 years, major portions of the web have come and gone. They’ve made us laugh and cringe, let us waste time and find friends, and reshaped the world in the process. For its anniversary, we’re looking back at some of our favorite websites, from A to Z, as well as some key people and technologies. Of course, there was far too much good stuff to include, so we had to note some additional favorites along the way.”
MakeUseOf: You Can Now Try the CERN Web Browser From 1990. “CERN (the European Organization for Nuclear Research) has rebuilt what was essentially the first web browser in the world. This means you can now see what surfing the World Wide Web was like back in 1990, using an application fittingly called WorldWideWeb.”
CNET: MySpace turns 15: Looking back at a pre-Facebook world. “Fifteen years ago, on Aug. 1, 2003, a man named Tom Anderson launched one of the most popular social networking sites of its time. Known as MySpace, it went on to earn $800 million in revenue and generated 4.3 billion daily page views in 2008. Eventually, the site would be usurped by Facebook as the largest social networking platform, but from about 2005 to 2009, MySpace was the place to be on the internet.”
The Boston Diaries: There was a time when search engines were a thing. And it seems they still are. “I was poking around in the deeper parts of my harddrive when I came across the source code for Geofind, a metasearch engine I wrote back in the late 90s. A ‘metasearch engine’ is a website that searches not the Internet, but instead passes the search query to other search engines. Back in the 90s, search engines weren’t quite as good as they are now (although some might contend that they aren’t as good as they were a decade ago), but there were a fair number of them, and the thought at the time was, ‘hey, if we query a bunch of search engines at the same time, maybe one of them will have useful results.’ In fact, quite a number of them. Unlike the … um … two? (Google and Bing). maybe, three? (if you count DuckDuckGo, which I only know about because of the circles I travel in on the Intarwebs) which exist today.” Wow, he doesn’t even look for Ask Jeeves, Northern Light, WWWWorm, Electric Monk, etc. but check out his list and get ready for the nostalgia.