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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Today in What IS an Internet?

Posted by on Tue, Oct 30, 2012 at 3:38 PM

Just look how boring the internet was in 1993! It's just a bunch of white text on a black screen. As "playwright and internet enthusiast" John Allen notes, "There's an interesting kind of restraint that you find. I mean there's not a lot of cursing or swearing; there's not a lot of personal cuts; there's not a lot of put-downs that one would expect to find. There's not screenfuls of 'Go to hell.' Which is surprising." And then later "One would think if you were anonymous, you could do whatever you want, but people in a group have their own sense of community in what [they] can do. The thing that I'm always left with is this overwhelming desire for people to be rooted, and the only way they can be rooted is through another person, and if this is the way—the only way maybe—that people can talk to somebody, this is how they'll do it.

Johnny—how could you be so right an so wrong at the same time! Does this mean that trolls are late adopters, or was Johnny just cruising the milquetoast-y playwright chat rooms? The report, on the other hand, is rather prescient in its description of the internet as "a world of art, music, sex, guitar construction, conservative politics, grief." That sums the internet in 2012 so succinctly! I mean, what did they leave out? Then when it says that computers would evolve "from adding machines and typewriters to tools of the human spirit," he NAILS IT. Just think of where your Tool of the Human Spirit™ has taken you in the last 24 hours and you will surely agree.

Thank you for playing today's edition of What is an internet?. Stay tuned for the next edition, in which we host returning champion Tom Heatherington (obvs a fake name), aka the ponytail-sporting internet service provider guy from last week's edition!


Comments (15) RSS

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Will in Seattle 1
Um. I have news for you. We had pictures of coffee pots and coke machines in the 80s. Because late at night, it was easier to finger someone to see if they were still in their office, and stuff like that. And nobody likes when there's no Sprite left after a trek across campus.

We didn't make it for you. You were an afterthought.
Posted by Will in Seattle on October 30, 2012 at 4:01 PM · Report this
You don't see a lot of hair cuts like that reporter's anymore.
Posted by sall on October 30, 2012 at 4:15 PM · Report this
Gern Blanston 3
I remember we had orange text on a black screen in 1993 where I worked. Much more exciting!
Posted by Gern Blanston on October 30, 2012 at 4:27 PM · Report this
"It feels a bit like everyday human fellowship, but it's bigger."
Posted by LMcGuff on October 30, 2012 at 4:28 PM · Report this
Urgutha Forka 5
Yep, Eternal September ruined all that.
Posted by Urgutha Forka on October 30, 2012 at 5:05 PM · Report this
Knat 6
@1: You'll have better luck selling that line to people who don't already know you. I wouldn't leave you alone with my toaster, let alone with my computer, and wisdom doesn't work through some sort of Benjamin Button-style reverse accumulation.
Posted by Knat on October 30, 2012 at 5:06 PM · Report this
mike in oly 7
"I mean, what did they leave out?"

Cats. The most basic fundamental building block of the internet, and he missed it.
Posted by mike in oly on October 30, 2012 at 5:45 PM · Report this
Reverse Polarity 8
Ah, the memories...

My first connection with the internet was through a 1200 baud telephone modem. About 1990 or maybe 1991. Even plain text was relatively slow, and graphics were out of the question.

Fuck. I'm old.
Posted by Reverse Polarity on October 30, 2012 at 6:14 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 9
@6 like I care what u think.
Posted by Will in Seattle on October 30, 2012 at 6:38 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 10
As to speed, I had 110 baud. Later I got a 110/300 modem for my Apple II + and after a Mac SE 2dd w a 300/1200 modem. I ran cards for input until the Apple.
Posted by Will in Seattle on October 30, 2012 at 6:45 PM · Report this
treacle 11
Yes, the trolls were late adopters. It was awesome then because we were essentially a small clan of people experiencing cyberspace together. There was the sense of camaraderie of new explorers.

Then the commercials came and it went to shit.
Posted by treacle on October 30, 2012 at 8:05 PM · Report this
Supreme Ruler Of The Universe 12
I was having some Internet redux thoughts last night.

I remember that back in the early 90s, PC sales had come to a near standstill. The model of enter all your checkbook data into Quicken was an unreachable goal for most, and the PC sitting on a desk in the home office, gathering dust next to the exercise machine (another fantasy) was a common joke.

It was the Internet, that put a PC in every home and every office. And it was a $49 application, Netscape, that actualized it.

But is the Internet necessarily "computing"?

I was thinking, no. The Internet is really not a computing advance at all. The Internet was a media advance! The Internet was a change from top down, one way media delivery to two-way, interactive, or conversational media.

The Internet, primarily, is something we use to talk back to the TV.
Posted by Supreme Ruler Of The Universe on October 30, 2012 at 9:26 PM · Report this
I have no idea what Internets Johnny was on but the one I was on had a lot of insults and cursing. My major interactions in the early 90's were 3 listservs (look it up kids). One was on college hockey and did have almost no cursing but tons of insults & even trolls. Another was on the American Civil War, some of humanities rejects posted there in defense of the right to human chattel. the war was the only thing civil at times. The last was a vegetarian group (I dabble) that would break out in the most hilarious hissy fits at times about what was or was not 'ethical' to eat/drink/wear. Hitler came up a lot long before "Godwin" was coined!
Posted by frankdawg on October 31, 2012 at 5:02 AM · Report this
Knat 14
@9: I think no more of you than does anyone else on Slog. Just so long as you're aware of that.
Posted by Knat on October 31, 2012 at 9:33 AM · Report this
Will in Seattle 15
@14 whatever. I didn't write primers on how to use ftp back in the 80s for you. or how to use various image translators. we built this city for electronic music by math majors who had taken music in high school.
Posted by Will in Seattle on October 31, 2012 at 12:41 PM · Report this

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