- A webring at the bottom of every website
- Websites having "awards" pages, full of random little picture awards given out by other random websites
- Hand-curated directories of everything imagineable
- When internet ads were just static 468x60 banners placed on individual sites by individual advertisers
- "Guided tours" in AOL chat rooms, where a host guided everyone in a live chat on a split-screen tour of their favorite websites
- Stumbleupon's stumble toolbar
- people trying brand new formats instead of filling in templates
- curated hierarchy, rather than every site feeling like querying a database
- weird people doing weird stuff
- visitor counters
I've kept those alive at w3counter.com since 2004 (before Google acquired Urchin and turned it into Google Analytics). It's not exactly an in-demand feature so I don't think it's even mentioned on the homepage, but after signing up, you can choose from a couple dozen counter styles, or the standard invisible tracking tag. Been working on redoing that site to re-launch it as a cookieless, zero-personal-data tracker later this year.
Actually I still host https://www.websitegoodies.com/ which I originally made in 1999, and that has a simple hit counter service too. So there are some counters I've been hosting for over 20 years.
One can dream.
Perhaps because in both cases, after some immediate improvement, the jobs get a lot harder as people fight back to bring their crap back to the top of the heap, but it sure would be nice if they had a corporate motto like "Cut the crap!" IMO...
The current system basically amounts to loading code from remote servers and running it on your device in a leaky little sandbox, so it's a natural next layer of protection.
I remember spending the better part of 15 min making a huge posts about UFO's (by repeating above process with various search queries) without reading much of anything and got comments from people who wondered why I spend so much time gathering all that "information". If I had to make that post using today's tools it would indeed take weeks.
There are still some webrings out there. You can find them in the link section of some neocities websites. There is a link to one of them on my old-internet-style website (see my HN profile).
I love the old internet but this is not what people want anymore. I have to admit I rarely spend time on neocities despite my initial enthusiasm.
> - weird people doing weird stuff
There is more of both of these now than there ever was back in the 1990s. The modern internet is a utopia of interesting people doing interesting things for passion (even among people who also get paid - those things aren't mutually exclusive.)
The problem is too many people have become jaded hipsters who dismiss anything not in hand-written HTML on a personal domain as 'inauthentic.' Like, your old Metallica fanpage with the flame gifs and badly tiled background image wasn't exactly the pinnacle of art and expression.
Does a personal blog need React or Vue? No, and my blog is made by a static site generator (Hugo, specifically). Do most web applications built nowadays need them? Almost 100% of the time for non-trivial applications, yes. You can do it without any JS, but with that same ideology you can also write your desktop applications in x86 assembly.
> completely disregarding the fact that UI and state management frameworks like React have made developing the sort of advanced applications we demand exceptionally easy.
Till this day, no one has given me a straight answer on why they choose react beyond the dubious claims of performance++. Or even why build a web app to begin with. Nor have the users been asked if they want native-like apps on the browser.
I complain but I use react everyday on a web app Im sure no one cares if it loads 400ms faster than a server rendered jinja template.
I'm no old timer but that's some crazy shit.
There's very little about my past I would go back to.
The main reason is cross platform compatibility for things that don't need to make system calls. Ultimately I would prefer to distribute statically linked Go binaries that are command line applications, but if I was asked all "UI" would be a REST API with a manual. The market finds web applications are successful and lower the barrier of entry, and so they're made.
> I complain but I use react everyday on a web app Im sure no one cares if it loads 400ms faster than a server rendered jinja template.
With NextJS and server side rendering + static optimization I find that time to first (contentful) paint is the same or faster than Jinja without me having to configure a thing.
> Now we have massive overhead, npm libraries for everything and only god knows whats going on in the node modules folder
npm/yarn provides a pretty good developer experience but the way it accomplishes that is a touch horrifying, I agree. Babel and Webpack I find bring it most of the bloat, which is probably a good thing as you're not shipping those dependencies in production bundles. It definitely chews up storage space on the local machine though.
> keeping up with the joneses by using Typescript - why use typescript when Java or C# do static typing so well? I can't ask silly plebian questions like that.
Just to get out in front of it - I do not like Typescript. I find Typescript to be a waste of time. JS's type system is broken as hell, but in just the right way for web development. It makes it flexible and easy to write. With Typescript I feel like I spend most of my time making the compiler happy instead of generating any value for the business or myself.
I would love to see a clear explanation of why this is viewed as true. I've seen this stated many times, but generally in a way that seems framed to an audience already inclined to accept it as true. I've never seen an explanation of this written and framed for people who wrote such applications before things like React or Vue existed, and genuinely don't understand (and want to) why the model they present is viewed as so much simpler.
To the credit of those that are skeptical, it is really difficult to explain exactly how much more productive it is without having experienced something it. The closest comparison I can make is how SCSS feels coming from plain CSS - it's like all of the things that you wish were easy are suddenly easy, while still being based off of something that you are familiar and already productive with. For people coming from traditional web development, I find that Svelte is the most comfortable tool for them to learn.
> I've never seen an explanation of this written and framed for people who wrote such applications before things like React or Vue existed, and genuinely don't understand (and want to) why the model they present is viewed as so much simpler.
I wrote such applications before React and Vue existed. I don't think I could ever go back. I would not describe it as a simpler model however - you're effectively writing two applications that communicate together to make one. The benefits you get for that are beyond worth it in my opinion. Assuming that you're using NextJS or something else that removes all of the boilerplate configuration, almost all of that complexity is hidden from you unless you need to modify it.
I don't know if I would be able to do very well explaining it myself, but generally - it allows for a more clean separation between systems. My backend exposes an API that my frontend can communicate with over background HTTP requests. I can swap out that backend on a whim (from Django to Rails to Express to Gin to...you get the picture) as long as it exposes the same API. With traditional web applications, I'd have to port over my templates and structure and state management system.
Most people don't switch backend frameworks on a daily basis though, I know I certainly don't. Some of the things that I enjoy are:
- Easier temporary messages/error handling (flash messages handle a limited version of this in traditional SSR environments)
- Greater control of how my data is structured and posted (forms are simple enough once you learn them, but having your data structure dictated by DOM structure is less clean in my opinion)
- Handling more complicated state is much easier - making a wizard interface with dynamically added and removed sections/questions doesn't need a large series of separate templates
- Component structure is just better to work with than template structure (expanded upon below)
The real selling point for me is removing templating languages from your templates. I don't have to worry about what Jinja considers to be an acceptable replacement for control flow, I'm using a language that I already know and is fully integrated with the entire rest of the environment.
> I've genuinely looked for this, and I've found only either presentations of "here's how it works, doesn't this seem better?" (to which the answer always seems like "no")
Generally speaking, the larger and more complex your business requirements are, the more easily you can justify using an SPA framework. Every presentation I've found on that gives only trivial examples, likely for brevity.
I believe that idea is part of the "make everything JS!" cargo cult. For apps that have very simple interactions, I use plain HTML+CSS and no JS. Use the right tool for the job, and all that. With that same mindset however, I'd be very hard pressed to say that there is no place or justification for the Reacts and Vues and Angulars of the world.
That's a helpful endorsement, thank you. I'd found Svelte, and it did look promising and more comfortable.
> I would not describe it as a simpler model however - you're effectively writing two applications that communicate together to make one. The benefits you get for that are beyond worth it in my opinion.
> I don't know if I would be able to do very well explaining it myself, but generally - it allows for a more clean separation between systems. My backend exposes an API that my frontend can communicate with over background HTTP requests.
That's a much better explanation than anything I'd seen before. Every description I'd seen before holds up React and Vue as simpler or easier than traditional web development, and that didn't seem at all accurate. The potential architectural advantage, at a cost of simplicity, makes much more sense.
(I do rather like statically compiled type-safe templates, but at that point, that's a separate question of preferred development language.)
> - Component structure is just better to work with than template structure (expanded upon below)
> have made developing the sort of advanced applications we demand exceptionally easy
Yes, it's only moderately more difficult than making it in a native app would be, and only significantly more bloated.
Coding a desktop application in assembly would be more work than in a high-level language, not less. The criticism against using frameworks such as React where they aren't needed is that it is a lot more work and that the end result is more complex than necessary. It is quite obvious that resume driven development is a thing.
But IPV4 was also a huge mistake, with its 64 bit host addresses.
We should have stuck with NCP, with its 8 bit host addresses.
Everything started going downhill once there could be more than 256 hosts on the ARPANET.
I really can't wait for the HN rant about how Geminispace has turned into Reddit and now we need to rebuild the web on an even stricter protocol.
That's not always a bad thing - a medium post/facebook group/stack overflow answer is still helpful and without the barrier to entry that a DIY website and probably more useful than some of the gif laden monstrosities that predated them.
But the homogenous web does lake the personality and charm of the old sites (now let me put away these rose tinted specs before I get carried away)
That's what's made what remains of, and the continuations of, the old Web, practically invisible. It's all top sites and blogspam or domain-name-spam sites on the first couple pages, now. Even those "skip the first hundred" or whatever sites don't really fix it.
Any open system that becomes sufficiently large to be worth attacking will be destroyed by spam, malware, scams, and other types of exploitation. The Internet is a dark forest.
When GPT type systems really get figured out by the spammers it will be game over. No open forums will remain. I don’t even think open but regulated social networks like Twitter or Facebook will survive. They won’t be able to distinguish spam at all anymore so the whole platform will become bots trying to sell or propagandize bots.
The future is closed enclaves and walled gardens that cost something or require that you know someone to enter.
I want to go back to 1995-2005s Internet. Small communities like HN, not Reddit monoliths.
Did you pick your Snoovatar and switch to the mobile app? No? Well, have eight thousand reminders of it.
The golden age was after search but before spammers got really smart, and also before algorithmic timelines turned social media to shit. I’d say 1998 to 2012 roughly.
Things went to total shit after that, largely due to algorithmic timelines prioritizing engagement (which means triggering crap and trolls) and the emergence of industrial scale web spam. Cryptocurrency didn’t help either as a lot of today’s spam is linked to crypto scams.
I think we need to look at more P2P communication to make the web smaller again. Share things with only your connections again, not FAANG & the entire world.
If your friends want to signal boost something, sure they can to their connections, but the default should be that you get stuff from someone directly connected to you, not via systems run by giant companies trying to learn how best to sell things to & manipulate the world.
There's stuff like that out there now. Secure Scuttlebutt comes to mind.
I have it set up so you can navigate and traverse it using the numpad keys for the directions of a compass.
The 2012 era was when we really started to see the weaponization of attention take off. Smartphones weren't that terrible (Crackberry jokes aside) pre-2012, at least in terms of being attention vampires. In app purchases had become a thing a year or two before, and people were figuring out how to make it work - with 2012 being around the time they figured it out.
The variable reward "drive your users crazy" stuff hit around then, and with it, the wave of "algorithmic feeds" - not just chronologically ordered stuff.
Facebook moved to a more heavily algorithmic feed in 2011, mobile apps stared more actively driving their users crazy, etc.
So that timeframe was when the internet went from "Everyone sees the same thing on the same site, and you easily hit the end of new content if you care" to "It's a slot machine, and it's in your pocket, and there's a notification to get you back into the slot machine."
And it's just been downhill from there. :(
Before smartphones and the web we used to waste time with email lists, minesweeper and paper publications. Most offices had newspaper subscriptions.
I do not have strong feelings about whose "fault" Grantland's failure was. I didn't intend for what I wrote to be an attack on Bill Simmons.
The indie web is alive and well. The bar to creating awesome products has lowered and indie developers are working on cool shit daily. Go check Product Hunt, Makerlog (disclaimer: I made it), or Twitter. Dozens of indie apps and websites launching every sunrise.
The indie open web isn't dead, not by a long shot. It's only got better.
A new generation of indie developers are rediscovering what it means to be a small creator online, embracing their communities and building products that put the user's interests first.
>The indie open web isn't dead, not by a long shot.
You can't even use makerlog without a twitter or facebook account. Do I really need to say more?
Fact is you created yet another centralized and walled garden, that maybe hopefully won't turn on it's users when VC money comes knocking or whoever the centralized gatekeepers are beholden to (advertisers, governments, media, web hosts, api partners, insiders, business partners, investors, internal politics) says so. The web wasn't always this way.
>It's only got better.
I'm barred from using your newer better indie web because I refuse voluntarily consent to global-scale social engineering experiments like twitter and facebook. The web wasn't always this way.
Your website also has the dark pattern of filling the screen with nothing but 'make an account' when you load the homepage. The web wasn't always this way.
Your page takes longer to load on a 1000mbit connection and a top of the line computer than many lightweight pages took to load on dialup... and yours is light years ahead of many other modern websites. The web wasn't always this way.
Its making a comeback, for sure, but it's in spite of and parallel to the modern web. There's a lot of crossover with the dweb folks.
>The bar to creating awesome products has lowered
Agree wholeheartedly. But the modern centralized web is designed to exclude 'indie' products to the maximum extent possible.
Edit: I realize my comment comes off harsh, I'm really not trying to shit on your webapp. It looks neat and I love the readily available API, that's something the modern web needs much more of.
I only just saw this, but it was an egregious violation of the rules here. Personal attacks are not allowed, and importing someone's personal details to use against them in an argument is seriously not allowed. No more of this, please.
You could make your point without age-related condescension. Had you not added this part, I'd honestly entered the whole comment much more receptively.
> Fact is you created yet another centralized and walled garden
That's quite true, you're right. Because it's the only way a one-dude team like me can create a product that solves problems like the one it solves.
> You can't even use makerlog without a twitter or facebook account. Do I really need to say more?
You can if you send me a message via email asking for a regular account. After all, in this new indie web, there are humans behind the screen that do care about these issues.
I've manually created accounts countless times. I'd gladly make one for you! The social login part is a spam prevention measure (and a very effective one, I must say, as I recently closed email signups due to spam).
> Your page takes longer to load on a 1000mbit connection and a top of the line computer than many lightweight pages took to load on dialup
Yeah, we're not in the 1990s anymore. Cope. Users expect more and products can do better.
Confirmation bias for the win. Upvoted.
I know people mourn the ‘decentralised’ web of the blogosphere but I really think people forget some of the failure modes of that world. Much of the conversation was driven by ‘A-listers’ who in many cases were garbage human beings. It was hard to get eyeballs and interactions on your stuff without them though. Most of the time you were writing for half a dozen friends. Hint: that’s what you miss! You can still do it though. You used to have your corner of the Internet and now most people hang out in a busy mall, but there’s nothing stopping you going back. There are all sorts of niche sites or corners of other platforms out there (many of which still have RSS if that’s your actual problem). But I think if most people are honest, deep down they find these venues a bit parochial now and avoid them while simultaneously lamenting their loss. Many of them are also run by young people you no longer have much in common with.
I’m as much of a curmudgeon as anyone but I find these increasingly regular articles about how the Internet is rubbish now absolutely baffling. The pie got much bigger, it’s flavours more diverse. Yes you maybe have to work harder to find your place in it. In exchange, everyone now has a place in it. That’s good.
People really look at this stuff through some bizarre rose-tinted glasses. IRC, Something Awful, etc. were on average just as toxic if not worse than the average modern-day online community.
It's not Google Reader, but it's a clean interface for reading RSS, Twitter, and newsletters. And there's a view of the latest post from each feed, so I don't get lost in the firehose and miss out on updates from people who post less frequently.
There must be more sites these days I’d imagine but it sure doesn’t feel that way. All roads seem to lead back to Rome/ major platform.
That’s also what makes hn so nice. It’s maintained some of that old vibe somehow not just in atmosphere but also in the links.
The devices are further enabling this. My first smartphone had a physical keyboard. It was the best. Now you can't find one at all. Makes me just that less likely to attempt to type what I'm really looking for and instead to scroll to what the algorithm thinks I want, or pull-to-refresh. If I do venture to type/swipe, I often mangle it terribly or wind up leaning on another algorithm that thinks it knows what I want to say.
Probably not how you want it, though.
Ironically, this is what a lot of people criticised Google Reader for: "it's killing variety in the space, empowering Google to control the RSS ecosystem as a whole". Which it did - the death of Reader was the death of that ecosystem.
1. Still around
2. Still independent (and run by Tom Fulp)
I'm a proud paying member on two accounts (one from '05, one from '07, though I lurked as early as '02) and I hope it never, ever goes away.
Eternal September started in 1993. I think it is the first time the "good internet died". I wasn't there, I really started to use the internet somewhere in the late 90s, with a home dial-up modem, making me one of the people who "killed the good internet".
The author of the article, and many people here are probably eternal September kids too, so internet killers accusing other, younger ones of killing the internet. The youngest ones are already from a lineage of internet killers and are getting ready to designate the next in line.
My opinion: despite everything we like to complain about, today's internet is the best internet, and tomorrow's internet will be even better. I have my nostalgia too, and some things really became worse, but there is so much we can do with it now, a lot of it we take for granted that I don't think I want to go back in time. Let memories be memories.
Oh no, it's someone lamenting the loss of a program which didn't even exist until 2005.
Things were always better in the past, that's because we don't remember the bad things. Apart from Punch the Monkey.
The internet is what you make of it. There are risks to it in the future (centralisation of DNS and requirements on centralised SSL being the current ones), but there always have been. Some things are easier (running your own server, or multiple servers, on multiple contents, with tons on bandwidth), some things are harder (getting other people to accept your email), but the internet is what you make of it, and there's far more you can make of it today if you want once you stop worrying what other people do.
Larry Rodriges chronicles his life as a blimp jockey in Geocities. His daughter keeps this running after he passed away. This is the good internet.
If this predates you, imagine the content of your favorite subreddit or HN, where membership itself was curated by people credible in a topic, where you could read sincere conversations and arguments between knowledgable (or perhaps just enthusiastic) indviduals, with a defacto Chatham House rule around opinions and pseudonymity, and read it at your leisure without the risk of missing anything, without ads, cookies, popups, or PII hoovering, and with a real-time responsive threading interface (via mutt or even pine) where you could use simple / or vi-like commands, where you could index and pile the whole thing into a database if you wanted to.
What made the old internet good was it was mostly a privilege to be a part of it, granted and revoked by the communities themselves, and not by a back end layer of unskilled governance activists.
I managed news servers back in the day, and I'm tempted to just spin up an NNTP server again with my own damn cabal (TINC!LLTC!) and to hell with everyone else. The main change I would make is limit the binaries hierarchy, strip any and all markup for anything that isn't code, provide support only for an open pyCurses client, provide a robust killfile interface for filtering low energy shitposts, facilitate reasonable pseudonymity, no idiotic picture profiles, and probably apply some modern ML moderation tools.
HN already does about 40% of this today, but the idea of starting something that emmulates the platforms today only with a different political flavour is predicated on the same fundamental problem that it is for the public instead of being for people who can pass a basic skills and literacy bar.
The fediverse is based on real time addictive interaction, whereas time in news threads was measured in days and weeks. Discord seems to be for people who really want to talk to you, but you don't really want to talk to them. Blockchains appear mainly to be a market for matching money launderers with people nurturing untreated mental illness. (together at last!), and one-off radical political sites are just honeypots for patsies to get set up to justify law enforcement budgets.
As far as I can tell, an influencer on a social platform is just someone who shares pictures of their butt, and twitter seems to have found their sweet spot as a broadcast system for people united in their shared predicament of having nothing challenging to say.
The text based internet solved a lot of problems platforms struggle with today using simple rules, because the platforms have scaled beyond their use cases, and their future looks a lot like that of AOL/Compuserve. The good internet is still ahead of us, and probably using tools we have neglected.
I've thought about doing this exact thing over the years, but could never get anyone else interested. If you do it, I'd happily join and contribute
I literally just had an email arrive from a mailman list, which from what I remember (it's been 20 years since majordomo) is pretty much the same as majordomo.
Not unlike the way AOL "killed" Usenet.
Overall, people don't scale. Any more than that joyous little stand-alone afternoon script in your favorite tool can survive blowing up to fully distributed, asynchronous cloud deployment.
The most fun I'm having in the age of social media is MeWe.
> 1995 is often considered the first year the web became commercialized