Thread: Retro Internet
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Old 01-15-2005, 10:41 AM   #8

Join Date: Aug 1999
Location: Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia
Posts: 9,507

I remember life before the web, when people were buzzing about The Well and similar BBSes, debating whether or not the internet would degrade our conceptions of societies bound by locality. Emoticons were born to make text-based exchanges a little more personal and empathetic and the hacking scene was actually an interesting world filled by curious, groundbreaking programmers - not script kiddies trying to satisfy their cravings for attention by defacing sites and using pre-built tools to generate data-threatening viruses, DDOS attacks and to otherwise exploit newbies.

Role playing gamers hung out in multi-user dungeons (MUDs), which were completely text-based, but served as precursors to Ultima Online, Everquest and the other MMORPGs of today.

Mosaic was a breakthrough, as were Yahoo and 'Cool Site of the Day' - both of which could generate instant online and offline buzz for even the smallest site, simply by showcasing them as 'new' additions. The Starting Point, Excite, Lycos and InfoSeek were huge, as was AltaVista (even though it didn't have its own domain name). Google didn't exist. 'Surfing the web' was a cutting edge pastime. For most sites, webring membership and meaningful link exchanges drove more traffic than search engines.

Amazon started to generate buzz, but it only sold books, so the likes of CDNow, CDWorld and CDUniverse still held market share. People started to appreciate the commercial value of the web but most big 'old economy' retailers and distributors remained on the sidelines. Every man and his dog foresaw the total industrial domination of the New Economy and it wasn't uncommon for listed dotcom companies to trade in PE ranges of 200-600 (or more) - and those were just the profitable ones!

Affiliate marketing was born. Wired ran an innovative graphical ad unit dubbed a 'banner ad'. Wired readers were outraged that the publisher had 'sold out' through its support of such an outrageously intrusive ad format.

'Internet incubators' CMGI and Idealab were valued in the tens of billions. An ISP bought the world's largest media company.

And to think that all of that happened no more than a decade ago.

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