I also miss the way Slashdot made me feel near the dawn of the internet. Before I had the internet, I got my tech news from CNN or from newspapers. Once I got the internet and could read Slashdot, that was just amazing.
I used Inoreader and it's now better than Google Reader ever was.
At the end of the day, nothing has been as good as Google Reader... at least not for the way I want to use it.
Alas neither of these are the same but perhaps they will be "good enough".
Reading the HN feed using RSS is much nicer than going to the main page.
But I've experienced this with other things, like for example I've been using Thunderbird since not long after Firefox was still called Phoenix and haven't manage to find anything close to a replacement, so maybe I shouldn't even speak up. :)
There was a company that maintained an index of home pages made by women. Clearly adolescent in intent, it was otherwise completely benign. There was no leering in the text on the index page, nothing slightly pornographic, nor any apparent selection criteria except that the person represented was female.
Back then, the internet was dialup and very slow. A page took long enough to load that one could perceive the elements as they arrived. It was great. There were hundreds of them. Each page was a little drama of revelation.
The page color would show first (what made her choose vivid purple?). Then headline (Roxie's Place on the Web - who is she?). Then the first text (back then, people admitted to some pretty mundane stuff). A picture probably started loading (duck lips wasn't yet a thing, nor digital cameras). Each detail revealing a portrait painted by some person who wanted to be seen. There was an innocence to the stories told in those early days, before porn, before fake news, even, to some extent, before cynicism.
I think the page might have been maintained by Tucows, now a successful internet company. I have always felt the need to defend the idea that someone could be interested in women on the web without any pornographic intention but, that's what this was. I look back on it fondly and, thanks to whoever did it.
Right now I’m just listening to the “For You” section of Apple Music and very rarely discover something new. I also don’t really have a way to keep things that I like around as there’s no nice way to put things in your library if you don’t use iCloud Music library. Streaming services also miss a lot of editions or different recordings and their meta tags are usually very bad.
I'd just check them daily(ish) and participate in various conversations. These days this kind of communication is either in chat groups on Telegram or ephemeral threads on HN and reddit. Rarely are those threads referred back to, unlike topics were. I still do things online that last, such as blogging, pushing to Github and writing stackexchange answers, but none of those are very informal and include joking around sometimes, like we did on forums.
I really miss the graphics/writing communities that were scattered around forums - it's actually how I learned how to use Photoshop and do front-end programming with HTML/CSS/JS!
Messing around with free forums is what landed me my career today - but forums are all but dead due to social media platforms. Even dedicated forums for games are either dead or have moved to Reddit.
I pretty much learned to play guitar off that site and off the early web in general. I took one year of guitar lessons, and then after that it was all learning on the web. This was 1994-1997 or so.
EDIT: Woah I just checked and they're still around!
But they got acquired a long time ago, and the site changed. IIRC it was started by an MIT student, and was acquired around 2000.
Oh it appears that Harmony Central used to be owned by Guitar Center, and then Gibson Guitars in 2015. I had no idea!!!
I miss OLGA.
I remember at one point my dad and I found this random choose your own adventure set of webpages staring Paper Bag Head Man (or something similar) which often left him dead in comical ways. It wasn't a cartoon, just a photo of (presumably) the creator with a paper bag happy face on his head, with some descriptive text, that would take far too long to load on our slow connection.
It was one of the first "internet is weird" moments in my life, and it was fun exploring it with my dad. Ive remembered it in my adult life and have never been able to find any reference to it.
It was an interesting place then, as hardly anyone in real life was aware what IRC was and online communication was virtually non-existent, but here was this place where people from all over the world could meet in one place and form groups in channels.
It still exists now, but I haven't found a channel that has the same stable group feel of like-minded individuals since the mid-2000's. I have less time, there's more distractions on the internet in general and people tend to communicate with those they already know.
They're mostly centred around various technologies on Freenode, so I'd recommend you check there.
* My own and my friends silly pages.
* Not a page but a feature: referrers weren't blocked so we could check who sent us traffic and visit their pages.
* searching with the old google.com before SEO became popular.
I wish I could give people these days an idea of what this was like.
...or missed, I should say. I couldn't remember the exact name of the fictional company, so I googled, and it turns out there's an archive.
Yay! I'm happy again. So I cheated on answering this question, but if you love tech then you should check out this strip.
I distinctly remember the original website for the Twinkie torture test...
Also, a revival of Gopher is certainly in order. Hypertext without the hype.
When they stopped it I couldn't find a good alternative and my reading habits changed, now I don't read as many blogs as I did.
The two sites still share a large percentage of links, though, and I read stories on /. that I didn't happen to catch on HN's ephemeral front page.
I'm not mentioning them because of the quality of the content on there, which was mostly terrible. I'm mentioning them because they represent a different time, they represent all that was particular about the Internet of that time.
Today's Internet is faster, easier to access, with better services and if really want the weird stuff that used to live on Geocities it's still out there.
But Geocities represents more than just its content. They represent a time when the Internet was literally that. A place where you could do anything you want, and where all content producers were playing on the same playing field.
I believe Geocities is one of the best sites to represent that era.
For me it was social media before social media. I'm just barely old enough to have used newsgroups in the late 90s, but I was never a friend of the interfaces to that medium (which is interesting, I usually prefer CLI over GUI, just not for communication). The web, on the other hand, was very very interesting.
Long story short, made a ton of friends on various of the board communities (mostly digital artists, graphic/screen designers, and web developers (before that was a term)).
It solved all my Web 2.0 concerns but unfortunately was authored in Flash and not a modern framework. Alas.
You would get an email each day that would take you to the site where you had to solve a reasonably cryptic whodunnit. I've never been good at these sorts of things but I would spend ages reading the story trying to solve the riddle. Pretty fun but years later I can't remember its name and I do miss it from time to time. It was a comfort to know these puzzles were being created and solved in the background but now is no more.
Hours of enjoyment from a very simple concept.
EDIT: Oh, who can forget the Purity Test sites! https://everything2.com/title/Purity+Test
everything2, which is still around
All the forums of yesteryears. These are the neighborhoods where I grew up and to which I can never return. There were no "kids on my street." My school graduating class was 21 people. I met and talked to people and learned online, instead.
Sometimes they get very obscure stuff from vague descriptions.
Each day there would be a list title, and the public would add funny items to the list.
Things like "Top xx reasons a grilled cheese is better than a taco."
People could vote entries up and down, helping bury the spam.
I'm not sure when it went away, but I don't think it survived past about 1999.
They took all the free stuff down and became a consultant. They would still teach you the same thing, but for a fee.
So I downloaded the entire archive using a shareware scraper , and learned a lot from that offline copy.
That was the sort of site that made the early Internet such a majestic time waster. I used to stay up all night in the university CS lab on a Sun SPARCstation surfing with Mosaic.
Yes, kids, there was a web browser before Netscape.
Today internet life is simply better, with much much more choice.
it was a colorful and public social media platform, not this monochromous closed bullshit called facebook.
that was really fun to do!
things started to get odd when they regularly changed website mechanisms like location based services to invite people to a concert/party. that's how this web service got unreliable and frustrating
I used to check it almost daily for new Linux software, because maybe that next editor, scripting language or window manager would be just what I want -- or at least an interesting experience.
There's nothing like it anymore (web-based, quick, secure). It was fast and excellent. Google killed it.
Can't find a mirror or archive of it, nor the creator. :(