One of the replies really resonated with me. Growing up in the midwest in the mid-90s, where scarcely anyone had heard of the Internet, Mondo was paradise. It portrayed a humanistic, technophilic world of sex, drugs, and high technology so far away from the humble, conservative "Breadbasket of North America" around us.
I have a full run of Mondo 2000 I intend to scan someday. Flipping through those back issues, it really does feel silly today. But back then, each of those issues symbolized hope for me. I kept a stack next to my bed for inspiration. I would dream about the future I was about to create.
Looking back, that's why I was so disappointed with college the first time around. I spent the last couple years of high school drooling over virtual reality rigs and cyberspace, only to have a required COBOL class my freshman year. I dreamed of dropping out and moving to San Francisco where all the cool people were, people who understood technology and the limitless future that lies before us.
Timothy Leary was my hero, and I wept the day he died. I tried reading Chaos and Cyberculture again a couple years ago and it felt like barely-coherent word vomit. But in 1994 it blew my mind.
I worry that this will be the legacy of Mondo 2000 and its ilk. Taken out of context, I'd say it's 90% "weird for the sake of weird" crap. Although I must say that it's beautifully illustrated crap, pushing the limits of 1990s hardware and software. And that's the thing - so much of Mondo's value is in its context. The team behind Mondo were cyberspace missionaries spinning tales of a digital utopia, inspiring us to realize it. When the mainstream went grunge, they went digital. I feel like my passion for open source today springs from that same dream of a global kumbaya we were promised decades ago.
But of course it was also more than just a joke. Have you read "The Guy I Almost Was," mentioned in another comment here? I asked R.U. Sirius about that when I interviewed him in 2002  and he said:
"I say that all the time in public interviews, 'We made it all up.' Which in a sense is true — some of it we made up and some of it we didn’t. Mondo 2000 clearly wasn’t journalism in the conventional sense. It was mostly composed of interviews, very subjective, really dedicated to people speaking in their own voice. It was very playful and very surrealistic. I never really wanted to do journalism — I do now because I have to to make a living. And we do it at Thresher, I guess because it’s become a habit now. To say we made it all up is kind of flippant, but we weren’t concerned with responsibility or credibility. We were more concerned with creating a sense of excitement and energy and a sense of belonging to the next wave of culture. And we were concerned with making people laugh."
Reminds us that what Poe's Law describes exited before the internet.
I named my son Hunter Speed Thompson.
I had no internet then, so I just read the Mondo 2000 book again and again, along with the Hacker Crackdown, and Howard Rhinegold's book on VR. That was the tech culture I wanted to be a part of.
edit: I can see from the Amazon link below it's still easy to get a hold of.
Something only people who never lived far from the coasts would believe. Ha ha.
This led to an hour-long discussion starting with "what's the Internet?" and "admit it, you just want to go on there to see naked people" before my dad signed off.
They younger people around me were exposed to the Internet first, through BBSs, Prodigy, and AOL. But the adults around me couldn't care less. Maybe it was a suburban vs urban thing?
What's funny is how quickly all that changed. It only took a couple years for the Internet to become a household word where I grew up.
Not so much has changed it seems.
But the best Electric Sheep comic was Delta Thrives. I look at it several times a year still. Gorgeous stuff.
90s Internet culture: what you posted.
Today's Internet culture: LOL I p00ped today! Because science!
It's really just a mirror of the larger culture though. I watched some old Star Trek TNG a while back and was just amazed. You could never even write anything that optimistic today.
History says these things are cyclic. Hope that's still true. Probably is. The 20s will probably be pretty awesome.
For instance - since we are talking about one of the pioneers of webcomics - there
s now a huge flourishing world of people doing comics on the web. One that's big enough and noticeable enough that people can find an audience to make a modest living self-publishing, with a pretty fuzzy border between it and the world of people who do work for "real" publishers. If anything it's getting easier and easier to make a living on this stuff with things like Patreon and Kickstarter.
It's just that yeah, we also have stuff like XKCD or the Oatmeal or Zen Moments that is honed to a razor-sharp edge of "something cute you want to re-share".
I feel the two are to some extent mutually exclusive. Some of the parent cartoons are amazing but they're also weird. They're "heavy." I might not post those to my Facebook feed. My in-laws are on there.
I'll admit we were naive about Google, though. But at the time, they were a couple college students taking on "big business". In a way, they were re-democratizing the Internet, and that was a good thing. "Don't be evil" was exactly the kind of message we expected to hear from an Internet company.
The fact that Page and Brin have increasingly distanced themselves from it, and gotten increasingly irritated when reminded of it, says to me that they've changed a lot since back then. The people they are today would never have saddled themselves with such a slogan in the first place.
All I have left from the late 80s - early 90s are 2600s. Small enough to keep around.
Has anyone else got The Real Cyberpunk Fakebook by Nagel and Sirius? That was awesome.
Sadly, it hasn't happened.
When you were reading Mondo 2000, it seemed you were on the verge of participating in something great, the world was going to change (all hail Gibson) and you knew it better than those boring over the hill 30 year olds in suits.
I suppose it was the same feeling that teeenagers got from reading some punk zines of late 70s.