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Welcome to the Old Internet Again (theoldnet.com)
421 points by doener 2 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 192 comments





That was a fun trip down memory lane.

I dug up my old personal website, as well as ones developed for friends, family, and professors. It's funny how I was longing for the good old days of the Internet in the early 2000's, at least for the simplicity of design (albeit, not the garishness). Everything was centered upon some form of content: a cookbook, poetry, scientific research. Most of the sites were developed using an HTML pre-processor or on an Apple IIe.

As much as I miss those days, I doubt that I would survive in the modern world of web development. Each of those sites were developed because someone had something to say. There was no pretense of building a reputation or making money. On the flip side, there was also no sense of being a voice lost in the wilderness. People you know would still go there and you may even receive a few appreciative notes from those who stumbled across your site.

It's so much fun rambling about the "good old days".


> Most of the sites were developed using an HTML pre-processor or on an Apple IIe.

IIe? Sure you don't mean the iMac G3?


At one point my .plan file was "To conquer the world with and Apple II and 300 bps modem." So yes, I'm sure.

Some more details, for those who are interested:

My personal site and a friend's poetry site were created on an Apple IIe. I don't recall how the site was transferred to the server, but I definitely had the capability of doing so directly via modem and a dial-up shell account.

The family cookbook was created in HyperCard on a Macintosh SE, and later an SE/30. Some additional code was added to generate HTML files, which were then uploaded to the server via FTP.

The academic sites were created using an HTML pre-processor, possibly on an iMac G3 running NetBSD (though I did have several vintage Macs running NetBSD at the time).

I made some interesting choices back then, including using a Mac IIci to access the Internet via a cable modem. But the choices were either spend my money on an interesting hobby or spend it save up for a boring new computer. Clearly, I choose the former and eventually ended up with the latter.


Depends on what period of early internet you are talking about, but non Mac Apple where around and in use during that dawning of the web period. They where a little long in the tooth but certainly where in use. Personally when the internet broke out of the Universities I was using an Amiga, then switched to Mac and finally a Next box when the web took off as at the time Next had the best tooling for web-dev and I was still dabbling in Motorola assembly so wanted to stay on a Motorola based system. IIRC PowerPC based Mac's hit around the time AOL was finally offering Web access thru their service. I never used AOL so don't recall for sure, but it seems right around the same era. The BBS type dial-ins offering web access is what really transitioned the net and specifically the web into what it is today. Before they offered access, you had to get a provider (if there even was one in your area), configure your TCP/PPP settings and connect in, it was not just pop the AOL CD in and put in your credit card number. So those services (Specifically AOL and Compuserve) offering easy access really spring boarded a lot of general non-tech users onto the net and started the next era of the net/web.

The Apple II line was very long in the tooth by the middle of the 1990's, but they were still fairly common in schools simply due to their investment in hardware and educational software. There were also people who clung onto to the Apple II as their only computer into that time period. I doubt that many of those machines were ever taken online, and they would have done through via BBSes or Unix shell accounts if they did. The Internet (and the web specifically) is probably what marked the end of 8-bit computers out side of collectors.

That said, the experience was okay if you were fine with text only access. Email and Usenet were text only. Then, as with now, images contributed very little to the content of websites so that wasn't too bad either. JavaScript uptake was slow, possibly because compatibility was terrible, so that didn't present much of a problem. Frames and tables were problematic, since they were used a lot for visual presentation. (If anything, I would say that the modern use of CSS for layout makes things better for text mode browsing.) Of course, web development itself could be done from pretty much any computers since it was then a much simpler markup language and there was a lot less presentation related cruft.


The WWW definitely predates the iMac.


Of course. I just wasn't aware that there were modems for the IIe.

The "Penny Whistle" modem came out in 1976, but hobbyists had been building their own for years.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pennywhistle_modem

People had been connecting mechanical Teletypes via modems since the 1950's.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Modem


I was using a modem with the II or IIe in 1983 to dial into a BBS

The internet pre-'attention economy' was so much more wholesome and pure. It used to be exciting to surf the web; now it feels like dumpster diving. Now it's something I try my best to avoid.

What happened?


I would say a bunch of average people came to the internet. Before that it was mostly reserved by geeks which valued information more than "form"/ux/beauty(irelevant pictures included)/...

Now we have just another pop culture. Sad.

But I still use IRC. It is interesting that most of (to me) relevant developers (system level development, ...) are still hanging there.

IRC is all textual and it was never filled with all the garbage you can see on web, but they did invent alternatives where all the pop culture went (discord O.o) while I can enjoy my peace on IRC.

I am really mourning about usenet. It was dying but still kicking, then google destroyed it with google groups.


Those are some rose tinted glasses you must be wearing. All these animated gifs and visitor counters were not here to convey valuable information but rather to make the website more popular.

If people back then could've played full screen interactive video on page load, they would have. Look at how popular Flash became.

I too still use IRC (although a lot less than I used to). I don't think it's really about interesting people vs. "pop culture" though, it's more of a generational thing. I'm sure today's relevant coders are more likely to be found on Discord than IRC.

That's quite unfortunate I might add, Discord is a bloated, centralized, closed source mess. But what can you do, it is shinier.


> All these animated gifs and visitor counters were not here to convey valuable information but rather to make the website more popular.

One of my websites (for my first startup - an ISP) used a server side include that called out to ping the client IP to inline either a static image or one of several "big" - by 1997 standards - animated GIFs by guessing at the client bandwidth based on ping time (yes, it was a very rough heuristic, but it worked surprisingly well at the time), because we wanted to be able to serve up a fancy animated logo to those whose connection could handle it...

If we could have served up something fancier we certainly would have.


I don't know if you have tried using Discord for any signifiant amount of time, but I have and I didn't find it to be the expertise filled successor that I thought it would be. I've joined channels for programming languages and it's at best the blind leading the blind, like a Programming 101 class forum. At worst it's lots of people asking if they can ask, or if anybody knows the language, and then leaving forever before someone replies.

definitely depends on the server, I’ve had difficult time finding groups for certain lang’s. but Rust, React, TypeScript have super active great communities there

I think in general what’s difficult these days is bringing communities together - there’s too much noise and promotion, too many places for people to be. so you get the situation you mention above - a lot of unanswered questions in a discord server with a perpetual churn of users looking for a community that fits what they’re looking for.

feels like people are less willing to become a part of a community - forum, IRC, discord, whatever - these days either. but I have a feeling that’s because I’m more out of the loop... FB groups seem to constantly pop off


I think IRC still has in depth communication is due to the fact that there is a barrier to joining. All these apps are trying to be easy, without realizing there's sometimes something good with being hard.

Yeah IRC needs a few features discord has to get better. Problem is those few features require central hosting

Were I inclined to implicate anybody, it would be the advertisers and marketeers, who will always be ahead of the rest of us in terms of understanding how to command attention.

That, and eroom's law applied to increasing bandwidth.

I was one of the average people. I started surfing the web on the day that AOL made it possible for customers to do so, rather than keeping us in their walled garden. Yes, I picked up a CD with the new version at the supermarket.

I remember reading about, and almost grasping, the article about hypertext in Byte Magazine. The idea as presented was that the tags controlled the formatting of a page to some extent, but also allowed people to have customized readers, e.g., for the blind. And if someone composed their HTML well, you could usually read it in raw format with minimal difficulty.

My personal web page is still written in plain HTML on a text editor, and would stand a pretty good chance of being readable on a 1990s machine.

What the Web evolved into was more like (to my mind) a general purpose GUI framework, and with it came the explosion of GUI bloat and constant revision, that we also experience on the desktop today.

Since I was dialing in with a slow modem, I learned the setting in Netscape to disable displaying images unless I clicked on them. Most websites remained functional that way for a few years, at least until broadband arrived in most cities.


Of all the early internet, I do miss Usenet the most. So much of it worked because it was really managed by sysadmins - if someone was a problem, spamming or griefing - was to simply email the sysadmin where they were posting and the admin would usually block them from Usenet. As public internet as a utility became a thing, the bigger isps couldn't manage at that scale. There's more to it, but as the sysadmins lost control, usenet was overwhelmed by spam.

Yes and everyone who was anyone was on usenet at that time. Lines were short, apolitical and open. I really miss that.

In those days I still dialled up daily with UUCP just to get my mail and news :P


It really wasn't geeks and information (unless you talk about early early web).

Even in early 2000s lots of non geek boards with people just chillin. There were issues but less intense, less frequent, less invasive.


Early 2000 isn’t early web. By that point it had already been around for a decade, had been heavily commercialised and a lot of the fun independent portals were already starting to disappear. By early 2000 Yahoo! was already losing favour to Google and the MS buyout of Hotmail was already a distant memory. VRML2 had been and gone, XHTML was deprecated and FutureWave / Macromedia Flash was just about to move to it’s 3rd company, Adobe. By early 2000s the browsers wars had already been lost too Microsoft and the era of Internet Explorer.

There’s so much history that had already been and gone by 2000 that it’s a real stretch to argue the middle third of the web as it’s early period.


Yeah, early 2000s is Web 2.0. Upthread is talking more like mid-1990s when you could plausibly have a hand-curated directory of the interesting sites (which Yahoo did at scale of course but for a time I even maintained an internal home page that was links to the sites I was interested in).

maybe I got the date wrong but web 2.0 is ajax/myspace/fb

I was talking about the phpbb era


Myspace in 2003, O'Reilly coined read/write web at about the same time. The original iteration of Facebook was 2004. The Ajax book I have on my shelf is 2006. All this stuff started coming in as the industry was starting to pick itself up from the dot-com bubble bursting. phpBB was a little bit earlier with the first release at the end of 2000.

Ahhh the era of blahblah");drop table users; -- , and unencrypted unhashed password databases :+ I'm still amazed the internet didn't just blow up in those days. Strange enough that was sufficient security back then.

Because those were the days that you didn't trust a website enough to enter a credit card number. If you needed to give a credit card number you called a land line phone number listed on the page that took you to their sales department (or the one guy answering the phones who also worked as sales, tech support, and customer service).

That was true in the 90s but by the early 00s there were already a few online payment processors around. I remember using WorldPay a lot in around 2000 to 2004. PayPal came onto my radar shortly after, though even then I was aware it had been around for a while beforehand.

I vaguely recall there was another service like WorldPay, and possibly named similarly too, around that time.

I’ve been running websites since 1994 as well as a keen record collector in the early 00s so used to do a lot of transactions online. I can’t really remember how I payed for stuff online in the 90s, which leaves me wondering if it was all via phone. But I definitely remember using WorldPay sometime around 2000 as I recall being frustrated by the lengthy process (lots of questions, which in hindsight I should have been pleased they did thorough checks).


That's the issue today. Everything is serious. Old web wasn't about security and payment :)

Absolutely.

Keywords I remember (?) from a developer perspective:

- basecamp (product from 37 signals, now Basecamp)

- prototype and scriptaculous

- tags, "folksonomy"

- later: gmail


And with gmail, don't be evil. Lol were we fooled.

Explains a whole lot of the the anti-Google sentiment here.

I think a lot of us thought for once we had a smart, nice, funny tech giant and they just had to prove us wrong.

We now

- don't have any really good search engine anymore, no Reader, no Desktop Search, no Google+. It seems Google after 2009 is incapable of maintaining what they once built.

- Google long ago abandoned the idea of not being evil

- and even Microsoft is wittier and more playful in their messaging at the moment

So why am I writing this? Because I hope they will change their ways or that someone else will pick up the really nice niche they left behind:

- to find results for the things I actually ask for. (A bonus would be if they or whatever replaces them also implements the ~ operator for "something like".)


> I am really mourning about usenet. It was dying but still kicking, then google destroyed it with google groups.

There's this website https://www.usenetarchives.com/ providing an alternative, recently seen it on Hacker News.


It’s not “average people”s fault. We’re not that special. The underlying problem is the ad industry if you ask me.

Early adopters are special.

The ad industry just optimizes for what companies want to promote and what consumers pay attention to.

Even the parts of the Internet without ads are different these days.


I disagree. "Eternal September" is a well known phenomenon that results in significantly degraded quality.

People talk about "Eternal September" in regards to the web as if to imply that all of the cool, interesting smart people were on the web in the early 1990s, and that the culture of the internet rightly belonged to those people alone, and that everyone who joined afterwards were part of the web's degradation and downfall. It's typical for people to draw an imaginary line in the sand of cultures or subcultures they care about and believe that everything that came before them was better than everything that came after.

They're right in a particularly narrow-minded way that only considers the "modern web" to be the public feed on Reddit and the worst parts of Twitter, and corporate sites and the effect of SEO. But it's also the case that the quality of content on the modern web far surpasses that of the early web because so many more people, representing a greater diversity of cultures and ideas, are on it and able to express themselves.

So if that's "Eternal September" then I think it can be argued that it was as much evolution as devolution.


> "People talk about 'Eternal September' as if to imply ... that the culture of the internet rightly belonged to those people alone, and that everyone who joined afterwards were part of the web's degradation and downfall".

Yes, that is exactly correct. The people who made the web, and built a beautiful space were the 'rightful owners'. A few outsize capitalists then saw that they could extract value from this made world -- and make themselves rich -- by encouraging and enabling colonization of that once peaceable space. It was a form of cultural theft and appropriation -- indirect through corporate marketing and lawyers.

If we follow the argument of 'diversity everywhere', no culture could be any culture anywhere because it would "lack diversity". One grey world is not a win.

The existing pre-93 culture was wholly supplanted and destroyed by the "new and improved" "higher quality" culture that replaced it. Of course, that estimation of 'better' and 'higher' is evaluate from the mindset of the colonizers -- not at all from the perspective of whomever came before.

Moreover, its not just the corporate profiteering -- that just opened the door for all of the colonizers. It is all of the self righteous fake "representative" identity virtue signaling that goes with it. Capitalism and wall street corporate profits enabled an entire world of trolls -- who then use the claim of colonization on others to hide their own prior actions in kind. And this is an improvement?


I think the line in the sand that a lot of people draw is when the web went from requiring skills to access vs being made easy for most people.

It's the commercialized Internet's reaction to a large number of "average people" who want things and would rather pay with their attention than with cash.

No, paying with money is subject to AML/KYC while paying with attention is exempt. Lower friction. This is why micropayments-with-money hasn't taken off while micropayments-with-attention has exploded.

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=24006703


I don’t think there’s anything preventing anyone from setting up a usenet similar service? As long as the barrier to entry is high enough it’ll keep out all the average people.

why would you need a usenet similar service? usenet still exists and the barrier is, as you say, high enough.

that’s revisionist. usenet was already dead. google extended its life, in fact.

What Went Wrong: Freedom and underculture.

The internet circa 1997 was an unsupervised, all-summer festival for free spirits & adventurers. Skinny dipping, legumes, transcendental dance and chance meetings that change the course of your life.

Now it's a residential school. 56% of the cultural machinery must be dedicated to dealing with behavioural problems in the cafeteria.


incidentally, the rainbow gathering web site still uses FRAMES

https://www.welcomehome.org/


not sure the nets ever were at some point in time, even in the internet's early days, 'unsupervised'

I don't remember an internet ever being "unsupervised" it was more that there were thousands of independent fiefdoms run by one autocrat and his minions. If you were in agreement with the ideas of that autocrat, it felt like freedom. If you weren't, you got banned and you found a different fiefdom with rules you liked, but there were plenty to choose from. Nowadays a few megacorps run those fiefdoms so it feels like there's less freedom because there's less options.

You answered your own question. Attention is essentially the currency of the internet and it's a finite resource. People got better at competing for your attention. Things are now optimized for "engagement" rather than enjoyment.

> Things are now optimized for "engagement" rather than enjoyment.

Yeah, "addictive" is usually not the same as "good" or "good for you."


or correctness.

> or correctness.

Or any measure that doesn't feed nicely into monetization.


What happened?

People also got lazy, why bother hosting your own website when you can just upload to Instagram ?

Why maintain bookmarks when you can follow others?

I don’t think we can blame all of the current state of things on “attention grabbers”. Consumers and creators are also partly the issue.


> People also got lazy, why bother hosting your own website when you can just upload to Instagram ?

Why bother changing your car oil when you can take it to the service?

Why bother cooking your own meal when you can just go to the restaurant?

Why bother sewing your own dress when you can just go to the mall?

It's not lazyness, it's convenience. Internet just got mainstream and popular, so people lacking time, interest or skills to create their own websites just use pre-built solutions. It's how everything works in real life.


You own your car (modulo spyware and remote shutdown) after an oil change.

The restaurant does not take away the meal from you after you ordered it, because you are not woke enough.

If you buy a dress, you own it.

On Wordpress, Instagram and YouTube you are just a sharecropper with no rights.


Yeah, if I'm a writer, is it "lazy" of me to also not want to manually do the formatting, cover, layouts and print work, as opposed to just sending a manuscript to an editor? It's not necessarily a bad thing that the web has evolved to the point that people who want to produce content for it, for the most part, only have to worry about the content and not the infrastructure.

> Internet just got mainstream and popular, so people lacking time, interest or skills to create their own websites just use pre-built solutions.

They don't lack any of time or skills. Take the example of websites of local sport clubs: they all had a proper website with all info and news and stuff. Now they haven't any more, they've changed to a shitty Facebook page with everything mixed together into an incredible mess. (By the way, the traditional website is typically still running fine without maintenance, it just hasn't been updated since around 2015-2017.)

I don't think the people from your small town random sport club, who built and ran the site in the 2000s, had special computers skills or time compared to those of today.


Most local sports leagues (and some clubs) still run their own websites (and have systems that support mobile apps). I find the online presence far richer these days where little league teams collaborate attendance, schedules, practices this way.

I think this “everyone got lazy” is overblown. Yes some folks are lazy, but they were the folks that used Microsoft Frontpage in 1998 :)


You know what happens when I eat at restaurants though ? I lose money and get fat, maybe diabetes and or high blood pressure.

I understand the sentiment, but convenience isn’t always the right thing for us.


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eternal_September

It happens when a service get too many users, and it ends up like everything else.


Having spent a few years as a web designer in the aughts, I largely blame web designers. We persuaded people your site had to be professionally and fashionably designed to be taken seriously. Learning to write HTML is pretty easy, attaining and maintaining the skills of a professional web designer is not.

Good point! I remember this period also as someone working in the industry.

IMO, you have to think of it structurally. Who was online then and now, for example.

Instagram & facebook are a global scale economic mammoth that subsist on promoting the dynamics you are lamenting don't exist.

Maybe people have a lazy tendency. They can use that to build structure. Once it exists, it also becomes true that if you want people to read your post, it needs to be on instagram, fb or whatnot. If you want people to see your video, it needs to be released on youtube.

Even if people were willing to host their own video, youtube has all the viewers. A viewer/user on a centralised platform is worth more (economically) than elsewhere.


In 2003 I was in my early teens and we built a website for our classmates, to have a place for our class trip photos, photos from our parties, to have a list of contact details like phone numbers and email addresses for all of us and to have discussions. I was just an ignorant geek guy who was "good with computers". Well, in the sense of Microsoft Office, Paint, clicking Next, Next, Finish to install stuff, configure firewalls, use Napster and crack games (by which I mean I knew where to copy crack.exe).

So we wanted a website. Previously I had already "made websites" by saving as HTML in Word, so let's go! But I figured we need to do better than Word, because Word's output was messy and often rendered broken in browsers, so I found an HTML tutorial and I managed to hand build a simple site, with the aid of shareware Windows software for creating button images with cheesy fonts and another one to generate thumbnails of images etc. We then wanted a discussion board, so I figured out how to install phpBB.

I had no knowledgeable geeks to guide me in real life but through these experiences I picked up real programming skills in my teens, JavaScript, CSS, HTML and PHP (and probably actively contributed to PHP's meme reputation as a tool of kids and dilettantes). A few years later I learned Python to mod games. I learned to put computers together and had a rough but cloudy idea of how it all worked. I liked it and went on to study CS, where I first learned C and C++ and Java and a proper theoretical foundation which I also liked because I liked math.

It was only in my mid twenties that I started to look into Linux. All my peers had been using Windows my whole life and I was a bit afraid of becoming a full on social outcast Linux nerd. But then in my twenties I lost my urge to conform so hard and overall came to like Linux. Overall I'm now quite comfortable with the command line, shell scripting and so on.

My point is, I was nothing special of a geek and had no geek peers in my teens but through necessity I picked up geek skills to make a website, to fix computers, to pirate stuff, to mod games etc., which led me down the path of pursuing CS as a career. I know I wouldn't have enjoyed it if it was presented to me as some gameified app to learn programming with some upbeat cheerful mentor. I loved it for the exploration, for the "nobody told you you could or should do this but can you make it work?".

Would I have become a CS person in today's climate where we would have just made a Facebook group to upload our class trip photos without learning any HTML? Perhaps, maybe through game modding. But do kids today have the same chances to mod games with all the DRM and always-online monitoring software? Would I have learned about TCP/IP if everything worked out of the box? Although I'd love to say I learned it all out of intellectual curiosity, in the moment I picked up these skills because I had something concrete in mind that I wanted to make, and learning these was the only way. If there was and easier way, I would have been lazy and in turn perhaps miss out on all the wonders of this field.

On the other hand there's just so much helpful material out there today, you can buy electronics hobby kits on the cheap, Raspberry Pi, all kinds of programming tutorial.

Any input from today's teens/early twenties how this works today? How and why do kids pick up tech skills nowadays that everything is so convenient and streamlined to consumption and locked down for inspection?


I am 20 and my experience slightly mirrors yours -- it was all about wanting to do something, so I went to learn it. However, I got into the internet much, much earlier than my peers. I was regularly on the internet when I was 7-8 (2007-2008), so I did see some of the old internet. My first time on the internet was when I was 6, but I didn't really use it much at that time and I am not sure if I understood anything about it at that time.

My passion for computer hardware (and to a lesser extent software) comes purely from my childhood, I'd say. It had a great effect, and actually led me to many paths I wouldn't have taken otherwise. Also, I gained non-tech skills as well, like my handling of the English language, for instance.

I can't answer your question, since I have had quite a different experience, but the reason my acquaintances are picking up tech skills is because it's the future and it's where the money is, or because their parents told them to. This is really unfortunate because they don't actually bother picking up any tech skills at all unless they absolutely need it (which is very rare in 2020 due to how everything is so convenient / available). However, I am from a poor country, so I am not the best person to answer this.

Personally, I prefer the old internet. Not only due to what I mentioned, but also because the current internet is just full of messed up things like the current state of social media (really, HN is the only one I tolerate) and how rooted it has become, or how people in general became more afraid of expressing themselves on the internet, and so much more.


I'm maybe a little older than what you had in mind (25) but still young enough to really grow up with Facebook. I think even in my age group, you saw tech skills primarily being taken up by people my age as "you can make a lot of money with this", or at least that was the mindset of most of my classmates at a mid tier state college.

Most of them seemed to have taken CS classes in high school and enjoyed it reasonably enough or have had CS recommended to them as a major since you could easily get a job in it (like the other reply to your comment suggested).

On the other hand, my interest in CS and programming was a lot more old school. I got on the internet for the first time in the mid 2000s and learned to make basic websites for my hobby and then JS, PHP, MySQL to make them interactive. I'm not sure I would've followed the career path I'm in now if I'd been born 5-10 years later. The epicenter of my hobby moved to FB/Discord/Instagram/Youtube and if I were growing up now I think I would've tried to share my hobby through those platforms and therefore never gotten into what I did now. I'm lucky I was born the time I am and thanks for an interesting question to think about!


> What happened?

Consolidation. Surfing the web used to be about discovery. I was into digital art back then and there were so many emerging artists with exciting personal sites. You actual found things through page links whether directly or though things like web rings.

Now I visit a couple of sites routinely and ignore everything else. HN is the closet I come to social media.


Agree totally - though I do very much enjoy the occasional long wikipedia tour. For millions, Facebook is the internet, there is nothing beyond. Sad.

This is the case for my mother. Facebook has her thoroughly filter bubbled, and it's sad and worrying. I don't know how to wean her off the Facebook brain-rot. Her ipad is Facebook, and Facebook is the internet.

She recently told me she wouldn't get a flu shot this year, and I know where she got that idea. I got mad, and gave her a lecture about the insane anti-vax people, and the many ways in which their beliefs are complete bullshit.

But my anger wasn't at her, but rather frustration that Facebook might indirectly cost her her life.

Some days I feel like null routing Facebook on her router. I won't do that of course, because it's not my job to interfere with her choices. But I'm becoming increasingly concerned.


Do it.

You aren't alone. My Mom went full on conspiracy with FB. She was always a little nutty, but its let her take it to a new level. I once told her "You better not make me watch you die over this (antivaxx/antidoctor)"

It's so weird. My father on facebook and my father when I talk to him myself seem like very, very different people.

I wonder that everyday.

- old internet was the product of the previous generation culture, internet was a side piece, a tiny new button. It might influence the desires of users at the time.

- economy trying to leverage internet as a new phase in customer access and higher business profits (never good.). Old economy was also not in the best shape and now everybody thinks or wants to make it's own little place on the web game. People are not here to chill they're here to win something. Vastly different mindset.

- a false assumption that connecting everything with computers would make our lives lean, instead of separate programs, computers and persons.. you have one cloud thing where everything can be shared. Obvious idea in retrospect .. but releasing friction is also letting weird unplanned stuff happen without control. Look at how much things now have limits (smartphone time etc).

- naivety regarding 'spaces'.. internet was a hippie thing kinda, but whenever systems grow they start to influence the whole thing (facebook,..)


What happened was that pageviews gained monetary value, by way of advertising.

Each and every one of those low quality pages you refer to is plastered with ads. That is the very reason for their existence.

Of course, the old web wasn't perfect, but it was very different. What's surprising is how few the holdouts are. Wikipedia is one of those few.


Those with power learned they could use the internet to control people and accumulate more power.

Kids today wouldn’t agree with this statement. What happened is you got older.

Many, possible most, young people today have nothing to compare today's internet with.

I recently read someone here arguing that "without ads, there's no incentive for anyone to create new content!"

If you're older, you can't help but know better. The majority of the web, in its first few years, was full of "content" and there was, broadly speaking, zero financial incentive.*

* To be fair, there were banner ads and, once Netscape introduced popup windows, even ads that hijacked your screen... you'd have been nuts to take that as an incentive though. People don't write essays for $2.50 a month.


> The majority of the web, in its first few years, was full of "content" and there was, broadly speaking, zero financial incentive.*

In grand scheme of things amount of content was abysmal compared to today. And today you have way way more of free content, created without financial initiatives by people who are passionate about the subject. Why? Because human nature didn’t change, and we got many orders of magnitude more people online.


Why do they need to compare their own culture with something that's long gone? We don't live the way our ancestors did, listen to the whole other kinds of music, enjoy completely different things and speak different dialects of the languages they had.

In the grand scheme of things the lack of ads or javascript is as irrelevant now as those times when you had to go to the post office to wish someone a happy birthday halfway across the country.


Same reason we study history: those who don't, are doomed to repeat it.

We can learn from past generations, especially about large societal and cultural issues, even if those past generations didn't have things like penicillin or TikTok.


This only works on larger scales. We, as a civilization, do study history, and it is an important area of knowledge.

The civilization won't go anywhere, we're too smart now, too capable, tiktok or not.


> The civilization won't go anywhere, we're too smart now, too capable, tiktok or not.

This is an advanced level of naivete combined with arrogance I wish that I had. Unfortunately, I've studied history and I can very clearly see the parallels between now and moments in the fall of the Roman Empire. Nothing is forever, and our civilization will fall if we do nothing out of complacence.


>The civilization won't go anywhere, we're too smart now, too capable, tiktok or not.

History shows us that such hubris and complacency rarely ends well.


We're still here, chatting on the Internet from our cozy apartments using our expensive devices.

Maybe just maybe it's useful for us to compare our culture with something long gone or otherwise different so that we can think critically?

Whole popular culture became a shopping mall. And if visitors of shopping mall don't agree with what I think, so be it. I cant change the product of our generation poisoning that make them attention junkies, perfect shoppers,... they just never went some other way to see it.

If you could, what would you change?

I'll answer: for starters, I want a protocol for articles that puts the dev into a straight-jacket: no dynamic features, no control of font or font-size, no ability to position text boxes. Basically, a protocol to present text articles Medium-style.

Why? Faster loading, fewer chances to track me, less ability to show me ads, more legibility, minuscule footprint to hack me, no ability to show me share buttons.


Take a look at Gemini: https://gemini.circumlunar.space/

RSS? ActivityPub?

AMP?

Gopher!

I was just thinking the other day that it must suck to have been born after the internet was taken over by a bunch of corporations. To never know what it used to be, how it was welcoming and user-centric. How there were many communities everywhere, where people could talk about everything without faceless corporate moderator oversight.

I think kids today would agree with this, it's just that no one tried to explain it to them. Engagement-driven social media is addictive because it's designed to be so, but once you've understood the difference, there's no going back to it.


Kids today spend their time in Snapchat or whatever, kids before them were into Facebook, those before who had access to forums, and before that there was TV, and radio, and Beatles. It is easy to arrive at the conclusion that things were better back in the days, but in reality there were just less things to do.

Engagement-driven kids are not dumb. They live in a different world, and it's their world now. The way we look at older people who can't figure out computers, they will soon be looking at us.


It's different things.

Engagement-driven web keeps pushing you to see content outside of your network because that's what makes them money. So, yes, it's a substitute for TV in a sense. I used to watch TV in my young teens, but now YouTube replaced it. The problem is that it effectively discourages person-to-person communication that people want and rely upon.

It's as if your phone line was free, but your calls with your friends and family would get interrupted with commercials and news broadcasts every 5 minutes.


All things converge to ad supported TV. The web is million channel passive TV.

Search engines decided it was smart to reward the pages that got the most clickthroughs by pushing them to the front page, which quickly filled up with autogenerated pages from content farms, duplicated copy from wikipedia, and people trying to sell you shit.

You can still find a lot of it on millionshort.com, where they remove the top million results from other search engines.


Smartphones. They started picking up critical mass by 2010. Within a couple years social sites in all corners of internet culture started going downhill in various ways whether Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, 4chan, etc.

The web had existed previously to that moment for 15 years, even with popular usage. It's nature changed significantly when people were no longer consciously sitting down at their desk to use the internet.


And there was so much text! Old websites (90th) were so text-heavy, it almost hurts these days with videos in mind. Also people had more time to consume these amounts of text.

I think video takes longer to consume information versus text. Or maybe I am just a fast reader...

This is definitely the case when you are only interested in a specific part of the content. There is no Ctrl+F for video.

Once the business model and psychology of content aggregation and habitual user feedback loops was discovered, there was no going back. That model is just too powerful and too economically successful. It sucked all the oxygen out of the room.

Unless your community is paid for by some benefactor, you usually run out of money convincing people to pay for it, or end up copying the structure of Facebook/Pinterest/Twitter/Instagram etc.


You can already see an example of this happening at this site. All the "Go Tucows" "get winzip" buttons. That's where the internet turned to shit. So it's not quite 'the good old internet', that was before that :P

I think it's just like writing a comment (like I am doing).

There is no boldface (just italic). there is no javascript, no inline images, no html escapes.

  you_can_write_code_though();
The constraints make the information the subject.

Also the "lens of money" does not distort things here (as much).


Money got into it. As soon as you can make money, everything starts getting gamed to make money.

Exactly what you stated. The internet became a multi-trillion dollar business.

> What happened.

Capitalism came to the internet.


Modern HTML, CSS and related web technologies are incredibly great and it's amazing what can be done in the browser these days, so from a technology side I don't want to go back to the old Internet.

Things like non-anonymous tracking, re-targeting, personalized advertisements and bloat needs to go IMHO, but the new technologies can stay.

That said what destroyed the early Internet culture is not technology but business interests: Today, if you search for anything that has any kind of business relevance you'll almost exclusively find shallow, SEO optimized texts written by content producers. The early Internet wasn't yet commercialized so strongly and relied more on hand curation, so you could still find more interesting content that was written without commercial interests.


What is "modern" HTML? Compared to HTML 4, there are only very minor additions like somewhat arbitrary sectioning elements. What has changed, though, around stagnant HTML, is an enormous amount of CSS and JS, making it impossible for a layman to create a basic site that doesn't suck. As such, "modern" HTML has totally failed its intended purpose as an easy means for self-publishing, and a browser cartel has inflicted webapps onto us instead. This despite HTML, being based on SGML, had all the mechanisms for rational vocabulary evolution.

Um, what? I've been building websites since the late 90s and I absolutely disagree that there were only "minor" additions to HTML and CSS. Sure, the basic structure of HTML is unchanged, but you can't look at it without looking at CSS, as HTML just describes what to display, but now how (well there is a standard way of displaying HTML without any styling but it's not very appealing).

The progress that CSS(+HTML) has made in the last 20 years is incredible: I still remember using ugly DIV tricks to get the luxury of rounded corners and shadows, which work out of the box in modern CSS. Or how hard it was to align content, which is still not super trivial but so much easier with things like flexbox and CSS grid layouts (which before also required ugly hacks like floating DIVs and clearing techniques).

I think it has also never been easier to self-publish and self-host HTML websites, and no one forces you to use JS or frontend frameworks. We e.g. build all our professional websites using static HTML and we host them ourselves. For non-programmers there are tons of great tools available to visually design webpages as well.

JS is also fantastic, and frameworks like React make it so much easier to write clean, good-looking web apps. I still remember the tangle of code that most websites were made of in the early 2000s, with jQuery and a dozen other frameworks mixed together and poorly bundled. Today we have a great compiler chain to which you can feed JS, (S)CSS, YAML, JSON, Typescript, images, fonts etc. and that produces clean, minified and (if you like) separate bundles for consumption by the web browser. I'll take that any day over the mess that was manual DOM manipulation and manual script inclusion and bundling. I also don't think web apps were inflicted onto us by a "browser cartel", it just turns out that they make development easier in many circumstances, so most companies adopted them. I wrote traditional web apps before e.g. using Django (and Perl before that) and I vastly prefer the separation of concerns that a single-page app with a REST (or GraphQL if you're feeling fancy) backend provides me with.

And I really don't think it's "impossible" to build a basic site that doesn't suck, where do you get that notion from? Look e.g. at https://jgthms.com/web-design-in-4-minutes/, he creates a nice-looking website with only a few lines of HTML and CSS (most of the modern CSS he uses wouldn't work 10 years ago btw).


Please don't take it personally, but the "stack" of Typescript, YAML, bundlers, "compiler chain", REST, GraphQL, JSON, SCSS needed for web-apps is exactly the kind of nonsense I can do without. I was specifically only talking about HTML which as a generic markup language already has all the means in place to encode any necessary information for rendering - that's the entire purpose of markup.

No one's forcing you to use any of these things. You can use a single tool like https://parceljs.org/ to get a very complete stack and be off to the races writing good old HTML and CSS by hand while having the ability to pull in new stuff whenever you want. Or you can just not, static HTML/CSS/JS bundles still exist even if they're not so manageable.

And you can't encode absolutely everything in HTML. You lose the ability to do stuff like CSS animations, some kinds of responsive design, and otherwise use more interesting selectors that allow you to really make the most of your web browser's renderer.

And you can't encode more than the simplest of simple interactivity with it, for which a pinch of vanilla JS can be the cure (not the everything-but-the-kitchen-sink list you provided above).

I find it hard to read comments like these as written in good faith. At best this one reads as well-intentioned but missing some crucial part of the understanding somewhere, and at worst the long list of unnecessary and unrelated technologies are intended to make the comment merely appear as if there is some actual deeper understanding.


Well, you sure can write plain HTML pages without any of the above, just like you can write desktop applications using Assembly. But does it make sense? Not really.

Also, it's simply not true that you can specify all rendering information in HTML, there are a lot of things like media queries or pseudo-class selectors like ":hover" that can't be inlined and need to reside in a stylesheet.


I agree completely.

I started building websites in 1997 with FrontPage as a teenager. It was horrible - mostly because I was teenager and didn’t have anything interesting to say. It also wasn’t easy and took forever to get anything done. (So just slap an in construction gif in it.)

Now I can build anything I want quickly.

Writing raw html is very inefficient. If you want a friendly to create content, use Markdown.

If you want to structure your content or have some standard components, use React.

Use a static site compiler like Gatsby - that combines it all and makes your site compete with any hand-written html and still contain lazy-loaded interactive elements.

My blog is a perfect example: I can write my blog posts in markdown, paste images in as needed, run a build script, and push the changes. It takes about 1 minute to build and deploy.

But, at the same time, I can hide an entire text adventure terminal simulator in the header bar (that lazy loads on click).

My site loads as fast as any static site, but it transforms into full interactive quickly.

Best of both worlds.

So I can produce well formatted content, cool components, or even multiplayer games - it’s perfect.

We have a paradise of tools - it’s a creator’s dream - (once you figure out the right combination)

https://ricklove.me/cool-stuff


> Things like non-anonymous tracking, re-targeting, personalized advertisements and bloat needs to go IMHO, but the new technologies can stay.

Having web browsers disable third-party cookies by default is extremely easy to implement and would already be a good start. The only good use case enabled by them is comment widgets like Disqus. And it's an okay sacrifice in exchange for defeating most forms of tracking.


Not sure why this is getting downvoted. It's a valid point, Chrome and Firefox will strongly limit third-party cookies soon, Safari already did as far as I know.

> if you search for anything that has any kind of business relevance you'll almost exclusively find shallow, SEO optimized texts

I get only links to stores, first two pages at least. Is it because VPN and no cookies? I started adding "site:reddit.com" often.


This absolutely.The good stuff is still out there but it's been diluted to homeopathic levels by the infestation of the "look at me" marketing crud.

It uses the Archive.org API for the actual cached websites, but I love all the other stuff added to the site, and the overall experience on the front page.

The creator’s page has a great little rant too which I agree with intensely:

http://theoldnet.com/~rich/

Bring back the old web.


He captured perfectly my feelings:

>I don't even know where one site ends and one site begins anymore. Were they all created by the same person? Are all our sites wearing the same uniform like in some distopian novel?


Incidentally, Chrome wants to hide URLs from you, and via the "portal" element, play out little pieces of third-party content among a mass of tracking and ads, while pretending you're not on a Google site.

>Are all our sites wearing the same uniform like in some dystopian novel?

Well, they all have the same bootstraps https://getbootstrap.com


Yeah that’s a particularly brilliant line.

I think all of the stuff this guy wrote pretty much every single day. I miss the heyday of the web so much, especially as I've worked it in daily since those times.

Same. Made my first website in ~95 or so. I remember getting so excited when we could finally change the colours of links, and distinctly remember even back then people saying “this is the beginning of the end for usability on the web, how will users even know it’s a link?!”.

Now look at the mess we’ve created.


Wow, I relate to this rant as well (and am one of those people with an eye for UX).

Wow, miss this a lot - Back when content was truly king. Literally, people had websites to be helpful to others. Open a website in 2020 and it will be either of these:

1. Popup randomly spits IN YOUR FACE - "Do you want to sign up for my <some stupid email series about making money>?"

2. Some dumb chatbot destroys your ear drum with a sudden bleep - "Hi, do you have any questions about our pricing yada yada? Reply here"

3. clicks download link - Fancy form popups up - "Enter your email to receive the PDF"

4. Opens website - "We care about your privacy - look at all these 200 million cookies we collect about you. Accept to continue"

5. Random Google login prompt with my face and email on a third party website I just discovered exists on the internet - Would you like to sign in into this website using your email xxxx@gmail.com?

6. Some marketing guru who "made it" flaunting his Lamborghini teaching you how to get rich online with a small greyed text next to his fucking name "Sponsored"

Sigh. I really wish we could undo a lot of things in the web development space and kept it simple.


I definitely remember popups being around for a long time. They used to open a new window (no tabs back then), but ofc now they do it in the same site.

Here is a link to 1997 tucows for Windows 3.x that has gopher, archie, etc.

http://theoldnet.com/get?decode=false&noscripts=true&year=19...

Just the categories they show (which includes 'ping applications' and 'finger applications') captures the Internet of that era well.


One of the things I miss most were the old Yahoo directories and Download.com. I'd go in there digging for a game and the results weren't sorted by 'relevance', so it would range from trash to some weird underdog game nobody ever heard about.

These days, search results are all weighted, especially on app stores, so you'd end up with everyone playing Among Us and never finding games like Predynastic Egypt or King of Dragon Pass.


I’m (slowly) working on an old-school manually-curated index of websites that I think have that “soul” of the old web. Many aren’t old, and lots are even using the latest in web technologies, but the common theme is “someone put time and effort into hand crafting this website for no other reason than because they were passionate about it”.

I really do think there’s a gap in the modern web for discovering stuff like this. Google only wants to show you what social networks and major entities have for your query, and SEO spam buries everything else.


lol, I have to agree with SEO spam. I tried looking for a good pasta sauce recipe lately. I remembered something recommended by Pocket, which was amazing (Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking), but it didn't even show up in the first few Google search pages for pasta. None of the results were even a variation of the superior recipes.

The top search result has 9 (!) ads, mentions the book, but butchers everything that makes the recipe good. It shows rave reviews and a rating of 4.8. It probably is better than what everyone's mom taught them, and better compared to a generic tin can sauce. But I think the old school algorithm of "best selling cookbook" does better.

Try looking for other heavily SEO-ed things and it's even more hopeless: weight loss, business advice, games.


I recently came across the following website in a HN thread complaining about bloat in recipe websites, I haven’t tried it out yet but it’s an interesting premise:

https://plainoldrecipe.com/


For recipes, I've had good luck with looking on yummly.

In the wake of the last "app stores are monopolies"-outrage (which happens at least yearly), I was thinking about a monopoly-less-appstore ecosystem.

In a place where everyone can start an app-store, people will need to carve out their niche. People could then start hand-curated appstores. For a niche. Put together with care and effort.

A little like-f-droid, but much more common and therefore covering a lot more niches. A "christian appstore", "socialist appstore", "appstore for old phones" and so on.

Kindof like the old "manually-created" indexes, but for modern times, in which phones are the primary gateway to the internet.


The promise of recommendation engines is that you will get that niche experience that will scratch your itch just right. I don't know how well that works in practice, but even so, it seems like it removes the chance of stumbling on something so alien you'd never consider it but you end up loving it.

I was thinking the other day about non-demand TV and radio, and how it was obviously worse in many ways than what we have now. But I spent many a happy afternoon watching a movie or classic TV show that I'd never heard of because I had no options, and really enjoyed myself.


Spot on. I’ve tried to merge the two ideas for my kids, I’ve got a NAS filled with shows, movies and music, and playlists that shuffle each so they can get some randomness and not just watch/listen to the same few repeatedly. We work pretty hard to try incorporate a big mix of content for them, and it seems to be working quite well so far. Also stops them being inundated with ads and recommendation sidebars designed to manipulate them.

I think on demand TV has a bit of a Skinner effect. You discover something awesome every once in a while, but most of the time it's trash, and you get frustrated looking for something really good. It doesn't help that a lot of Netflix productions have 20 episodes or so, of which only about 3 are really good.

Back in the day, you'd have your Simpsons and Power Rangers and just learn to enjoy it and talk about it with all your friends.

I think algorithms are built wrong too. We'd probably click on some show with a sexy model, or a rom-com twist on a zombie flick, or some reality cooking show with celebrities, or a gritty remake of a children's show. We don't really intend to watch it. But they pique curiousity and a little disgust. The algorithms register these clicks and long views as an "interest", and gives us more of these clickbait-ish shows.

I think what would work is simply narrowed down genres, say, Animation > Children > Horror (e.g. Adventure Time) or Animation > Adult > Tragicomedy (e.g. BoJack Horseman). Past that, just arrange at random, alphabetically, and not even by popularity.


> It doesn't help that a lot of Netflix productions have 20 episodes or so, of which only about 3 are really good.

Yeah this was really obvious to me in some of their Marvel stuff. Overall enjoyable enough, but only if I binged it while doing something else. Pacing and a lot of dead air time was otherwise a huge problem.


The typical MySpace page was an audiovisual mess, but...I miss that world. Everything now is bland corporate minimal, no creativity required.

The same thing has happened across other visual fields. World leaders all (mostly) wear the same style of Western business suit. Cars basically all look the same. Etc. It’s been a global disaster for diversity.


My college site still looks like that. Almost all Indian govt sites do too.

https://www.bitsadmission.com/bitsatmain.aspx


That made smile. You are right, a lot of official Indian/First Nations/Indigenous/Native American... sites are old school. Also simple, direct and fast-loading.

Hey everyone I am the creator of The Old Net.. but in a way, aren't we all?? (cheese)

Anyway super excited to see people talking about my project here. I originally built it just for myself. I have a healthy collection of old computers. I'm really happy that other people are getting something out of it.

I see some good feature suggestions. Keep them coming. I have an ever growing backlog of things I want to add to the site. And one by one I do what I can to add them.

Just a couple weeks ago someone mentioned on a facebook group that they wish they could use wikipedia from an old browser. So I built a proxy for that.

One issue I've been struggling with since the beginning is continually getting flagged by cyber security tools as a phishing site. Anytime this happens all I have to do is contact the security company and without question they lift the blacklist status of my site. But none of them will tell me anything I can change to avoid these false positives proactively. If anyone has concrete advice on this please let me know.

Thanks!


Soji Yamakawa's (MechE scientist at CMU) official website[0,1] of YSFlight[2] flightsim keep it going since Sep 5th, 1998[3] ;)

> You are <counter>th visitor since 1998/09/05

    You are <!--webbot bot="HTMLMarkup" startspan --><img src="http://hpcounter3.nifty.com/cgi-bin/counter.cgi?u=PEB01130&amp;p=27&amp;c=7" style="display: none ! important;" hidden="" border="0"><!--webbot bot="HTMLMarkup" endspan i-checksum="32512" -->th visitor since 1998/09/05
Sadly, it's <counter> provider stopped to work.[4]

[0] http://ysflight.in.coocan.jp/main/e2020.html

[1] http://ysflight.in.coocan.jp/publication/publication.html

[2] https://ysflight.org

[3] http://ysflight.in.coocan.jp/frmcontente.html

[4] http://hpcounter3.nifty.com/cgi-bin/counter.cgi?u=PEB01130&p...


This is a collection of interesting old websites: https://peelopaalu.neocities.org/

I liked the pre-popup era, then the popups appeared, then browsers/extensions tried to kill these. Now EU created Cookie law which brought again back these awesome popups which you need to confirm on every page in a different way. Seems like popups is the solution to everything to get your attention. :)

The current generation have forgotten that the web was just created by engineers over a decade or more, not something that was always there.

Paraphrasing Alan Kay on the growth of programming languages and personal computing in the 70s vs 80s, it became something to learn, ossified in time, not something that could be recreated, remixed, rethought.

This is normal with technology adoptions. Eventually it will be disrupted (it already is on the fringes), this just tends to take decades.

“The perspective on humanity I would choose is that “we are the species that fools itself” — in fact we even pay to be fooled — and we have been fooling ourselves for our entire 200,000 years.... Every human being is born with the potential to learn to see as Helen Keller learned to see – with their hearts, bodies, spirit and minds — and to learn to be as vividly alive and human as Helen Keller learned to be.” -AK



Another old popular website that has survived nearly unchanged and has this tinge is Vimm's Lair!

https://vimm.net/


Roy Wedding's "Careers for the new millenium..." is gold:

"A talent for making up cute names to replace 'layoff' such as; reduction in force, right-sizing, down-sizing, early retirement, etc., is a plus. "

http://theoldnet.com/get?decode=true&noscripts=true&year=199...

Curious that what ought to be apostrophes are corrupted and substituted with � .


Some nice possible additions:

1. Visit counter

2. Marquee, blink, Iframes, MIDI background music, tiled image background

3. Tucows, IRC, FTP, Newsgroups...

4. Winamp, Sonique, Eudora, Encarta, Download managers.

5. UFOs, chupacabra, Mars pyramids, Horoscope, Britney Spears.

6. VRML


Thanks for the feature suggestions! Some of them are already there

It does have a counter. Tucows does work. And I have sunk a good amount of time into making this VRML museum. http://vrml.theoldnet.com


Nice, thank you.

Perhaps the Tucows link should redirect to an archived version from 1995.


It's a shame that the "HTML 4.0" link doesn't link through to the W3C HTML validator, which then points out a couple of validation errors.

#METOO 1996. I did not have color display, so I never saw this in its full splendour. Bill Gates gave computers to Helsinki Library some years later. http://theoldnet.com/get?decode=false&noscripts=true&year=19...

Goddämmerung. Finland's first ever WWW-page from 1992 is broken. But no worry, I have preserved it verbatim in Github: http://timonoko.github.io/alaska/index.htm

Google translates it almost perfectly now: https://translate.google.fi/translate?hl=en&tab=rT&sl=fi&tl=...

Read your kayaking journey on the Sea of Cortez. Unfortunately lots of pictures are missing, but I kept reading!

These kind of reports are some of the things that I miss on the new internet. I did have a site of my own where I also wrote like this, mainly amateur astronomy (which was my main hobbie back then). Nowadays, because of smartphones you get every information on live. Sometimes I just like to know the things after they've occurred, when the person sits on front of a computer after some days (without access to computers), and writes things as he remembers them..


Ha, yes! It has my old ISP front page correct for circa 1995!

www.exnet.com


I immediately looked up mine too. xs4all.nl. On which they annouce even more local ISDN dial-in points. And on which they hosted the webradio B92, and supported/funded journalists who investigated the war in Yugoslavia.

A very much missed mixture of political involvement, technology and commerce. It's really hard to imagine in 2020, say, Vodaphone, or Verizon, taking a stance in the war in Syria, for example.


I would consider making the HTML tags uppercase, at least that's how I learned how to do them back in the day.

Also it's funny that SEO for a while almost felt like creating a successful webring because it's all based on how many sites link back to you.


I had forgotten webrings. Looking up on Wikipedia it reads like a very sad history of the web.

What i looking for is a tool where no need to layered abstractions (like React or Vue or Svelte), easisier to understand but still stay performant.

So, i think it's the goal. Maybe browser vendor api needs to adopt it, else we have to have abstract over native browser api to do amazing things with browser.


Nice to see our old site still vaguely works in modern browsers.

http://theoldnet.com/get?year=1996&noscripts=true&decode=tru...


It's not about good old days or bad new days, it's about business. In the old days, there're mostly sharing about knowledge, less cares about business.

Today is another factor, less simpler, more revenue.

What i really want is to achieve both: sharing and revenue.


I checked reddit through this, and on the front page there was a post by Aaron Swartz.

yeah, you only need look at reddit's front page now and then to get an idea of what changed about the internet

Hmm, https://nostalgia.wikipedia.org is probably a better retro experience than their proxy. Still cool though.

Hi again, Richard from The Old Net here.

I read through the comments and there is a lot of good philosophical and political conversations going on.

I usually stay out of politics and preaching to strangers in general but here is my take on what I think happened, is happening and needs to change going forward. If I can move anyone's mindset a little bit then that's a win.

The problem? We as consumers don't pay the real cost for software and services.

That's it. Everything bad that we can point our finger at stemmed from this.

Look at any industry in the internet world, find something you don't like about it and then just ask, is this because we don't pay the real cost of this?

Mobile gaming is an obvious example. The whole industry is a disgusting mess all because nobody wants to pay for the games.

Business will always find another way. It's pretty crazy how some of the wealthiest tech companies don't directly collect money for their products.

It makes you wonder as an aspiring entrepreneur why you would ever start an honest B2C business in 2020 when a) you know nobody wants to pay for stuff and b) you could make so much more money by selling their data.

I'm not saying anything new here, just that maybe we should put a firm foot down and only use things that you can buy with money with ZERO strings attached.

We should have done this in the first place decades ago but the Napsters and such really got us accustomed to having exactly what we want and not having to pay for it. Something we were quite comfortable with.

We should have paid the real cost for things back then and maybe it wouldn't have lead business to invent new ways to generate revenue.

I believe we are paying for that mistake now and I worry that maybe we can't put the toothpaste back in the tube.

Will companies turn down the chance to monetize you even if you pay for a subscription? Why would they stop if they don't have to?

What is the real cost of the service or product? What is the dollar figure that makes us whole?

Hell, I pay $120 a year for a travel VISA and they still spy on my purchases. We have been doing this since what the 80's?

What's changed? Well AI and Big Data changed. As a human it's hard, if not impossible, to understand how the exact same data available to you, to review as you see fit, if given to a machine could determine all kinds of things that you couldn't have predicted.

And the internet itself has made it way easier to supply this vast amount of data like never before. Businesses used to analyze your credit card purchases. Now, anything and everything.

So what is the true cost? Well I don't know but think about this. Say you pay $100 for a Google Home speaker. $100 isn't nothing, but what did you really buy with that money? My answer is you bought the hardware. But the hardware is useless without the service, not unlike a cell phone. Are you paying a monthly subscription for the Google Home Service?

I'm not even sure if $100 bought you the hardware. It could be subsidized by the company, they will make the money back on you later don't worry.

Just recently spotify had a promotion where you would get a free google home mini. Great sign me up, wait what's this? I have to link spotify to my google account to quality for the promotion? This gives Google access to my spotify listening habits?

How strange to think this deal could be worth it to Google. They're taking a $50 hit on every customer. It's not like it is a subscription service, where they could give the hardware away for free and do the razor blade model for recurring revenue.

I think it's safe to say your personal music listening habits is somehow worth at least $50 to Google.

Did you know in the 1980's it cost $499 for spreadsheet software? It didn't matter which program, $499 across the board.

What changed between now and then? Who would pay $499 for a boring spreadsheet app? No one. Who uses boring spreadsheet apps for the most important parts of life? Everyone.

Still, spreadsheet software needs high-skilled people to make the product. How will they get paid if you don't pay the sticker price? Well, Google makes a decent spreadsheet program. I use it all the time. It's free. So I suppose they got paid to make that somehow.

I'm not trying to directly single out Google here, just what easily came to mind.

Anyway, blaming us, the humans is only one side of the story. The other side is the business practices. To me it seems simple. The same sociological techniques that worked in the land of the infomercial has been amplified on the internet. It certainly doesn't help that technology is so good you can build professional quality video content with basically no investment.

The internet has been the great equalizer for humanity. In the best of ways and the worst all the same.


Thanks for your thoughts, Richard. I agree with a lot of what you're saying here. I would gladly pay 50-100USD/mo to be able to use a web built around quality UX rather than ads. Efforts like Brave browser are interesting. Here's to hoping we figure out something that works.

Yeah, the other side of the story I'm leaving out is most of us probably can't afford the true cost of all the stuff we use. So we'd have to practice some restraint. We can't have it all.

Nice! and super performant

It's so much fun. Had a nostalgia moment for a second and had a an increase in muscle memory.

This is missing some animated ‘under construction’ gifs.

Whoa, this is great. I am using a 2006 Mac Pro with 10.7.5 and most sites are broken to me (not HN).

Tucows!!!!! my ISP (Telsur) had a mirror of most Tucows downloads, so it was very fast to get the newest shareware :)

Oh, those were the days.


People will look at this like the old phone switchboards... Operator connect me to www.webcrawler.com please

Financial incentive manipulated users' intentions, not to mention search engine optimization.

Love it, ahhh for the good ole days. Also, check out the link to the rpi UHF TV station. Very cute.

For the full experience, buy an old computer like a DEC Multia or SGI Indy just to browse this.

Obligatory to mention: https://wiby.me/

This is pretty freaky, but after the OP link mentioned having a running BBS I was wondering how I’d go about finding other current BBSes, and on my third “Surprise Me” click on Wilby it gave me this:

http://www.synchro.net/sbbslist.html

There goes the next few nights.


I miss my old guestbook

It's interesting how gifs died and came back

The new internet is far better. People are taking for granted how much easier it has made it to acquire and publish information and communicate p2p, and how much that contributes to our lives.

More and more appealing compared to today’s Web.

Diminishing returns on usability. It’s pushing sites and apps past this cliff for the sake of fake progress, that kills software, instead of meaningful change

my malware software said this link was a phishing site.

no popups, no sticky headers, no full width everything. where can i buy one?

threat Mal/HTMLGen-A has been found on this website

> Bugs have been reported with IE 1.5

Not sure if that is a joke or not, but I do like it :D




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