• Lmaydev@programming.dev
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    1 month ago

    There were no front pages like Reddit or Facebook.

    Everyone had their own site and hosting was stupidly cheap.

    You could host your own videos for very little. You didn’t need to rely on external services like YouTube.

    You found websites by word of mouth or by links on the sites you visit. It was an age of discovery. It was awesome.

    As content was self hosted there wasn’t any private censorship of content. And as it was cheap people weren’t desperately trying to monetize everything to stay a float.

    It was so completely different it’s legit hard to explain.

    • gedaliyah@lemmy.world
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      1 month ago

      If you hosted your homepage through your ISP or a site like GeoCities, there were no bandwidth charges and no storage limits. You could just make an FTP and upload every file you own if you wanted.

      • merari42@lemmy.worldOP
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        1 month ago

        You could also you any jarring combination of colours, fonts, gifs, marquee tags, and anything that you desired with your geocities sites. There was no tyranny of design principles or minimal corporate webdesign.

  • SeikoAlpinist@slrpnk.net
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    1 month ago

    People used their real names, and even posted where they were from on Usenet. There was a sense of community and there was a term – netequitte – that described how we would act towards one another. If you used a handle, watch out, you might be a troll, and you certainly weren’t going to be immediately trusted and had to build your reputation.

    Replies went below the body, not above it, and everybody hated Microsoft Outlook for unilaterally deciding that replies go at the top of a message. Similarly, people hated WebTV users for just bringing the level of discourse to the gutter.

    Web forums were fast and also a good place for community, kind of a gateway from Usenet to modern discussion forums. When people passed away we would all attend the funerals or whatever if we were close. There were 56k warnings in the subject line if a post had embedded images.

    In the metal scene, maybe other places too, you would trade CDs. So like you had a burner and someone else had a burner and you would swap copies of CDs that you had for something they had. So you could build an entire huge collection of CDs and demo tapes cheaply. There were trading lists and people had reputations and who was reliable, who was a rip-off, and who was an idiot for burning 256kbps MP3s and selling them as CD quality (yes, you could tell a difference back then; something we still haven’t recovered from now that everyone is streaming). If you didn’t have anything to trade, you would pay like $8 for a CD. Black Friday 2000 was huge because burners only cost a couple hundred dollars that week, so it was a wise investment.

    Sometimes the traders of new music were the band members themselves, and that was always fun to find out. I got Sons of Northern Darkness from a guy who was in the studio. I got a copy of another highly respected album from the bassist of that band who just wanted people to hear it. They would just mail it your house and you would receive a CD in an envelope with chicken scratch handwriting on it.

    When Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia was leaked in the trading community, it blew people’s minds. People were like holy shit this meme band that everyone hates just got serious and took our entire genre to the next level. I cannot understate how big that album was.

    People sent checks via the mail in exchange for goods. Online transactions were still done this way instead of all electronically. So you would purchase online, get an order number, put that order number on a certified check, and mail it off. And a week later you had your stuff.

    Also everybody had a customized desktop. Not just the wallpaper, but the themes, the colors. There might be a talking cat that sat on the desktop and would get up and walk around and poop and tell you what time it was. Everybody had unique desktops. Everybody had different fonts. Maybe cursive, and in pink and yellow and that was what the entire interface looked like.

    Slashdot was huge and the original Reddit. There was a Slashdot effect where if they linked a site, that site would suddenly get so much traffic that it might die. Also in those days you could tell if a webpage was using IIS or Apache because the Windows server was always slower to serve webpages. When Dell entered the server space people laughed because Dell was not an enterprise brand and who would ever seriously use x86 or Windows on a production server?

    Online chat was a thing with a/s/l and everyone had an online significant other with whom they would chat about things daily, but who lived like 5 states away and no you would never, ever go meet them. Even suggesting such an idea would usually end the friendship. Everybody had an online diary with a guestbook and a stat counter – showing how many page hits you had.

    There was less corporate ownership and more independence back then. It was okay to be different and unique. The Internet wasn’t just like 5 websites.

    I think the Fediverse – Mastodon especially, comes closest to recreating that turn of the century feel.

    • Gointhefridge@lemm.ee
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      1 month ago

      I remember when Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia came out. Hybrid Stigmata changed me forever. That was the extreme metal song that “clicked” for me finally and I quickly began my spiral into the metal darkness.

  • Treczoks@lemmy.world
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    1 month ago

    Having been online when the web was invented, I remember an internet where people simply trust each other. Mail servers acceped mail for anyone without authentication, you could upload files to public servers without problems, and if you needed a machine to host something, you asked around for someone letting you do this. Imagine that today!

    SPAM still was processed meat and not the bane of your inbox. It actually had not been invented then! No ads, no cookies, no subscriptions, no paywalls. OK, ordering pizza online was not a thing yet, too.

    When you did something stupid because you were new, someone took you by the hand and educated you (eiter not to do it all, or do it the right way), and you learned to be a good netizen.

  • hperrin@lemmy.world
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    1 month ago

    It was separate from real life. Like, you had to make a conscious decision to “go online”, because otherwise you were always offline. Now it’s harder to be offline. I guess I’m saying I miss the days where we weren’t expected to always be reachable. The phone and the internet were at home.

    • Wiz@midwest.social
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      1 month ago

      It was also a sacrifice to go online. You would tie up one communication channel to use another.

  • stoly@lemmy.world
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    1 month ago

    It used to be exciting. They weren’t trying to earn money with every click and game the system. You got to explore the world and meet interesting people. I miss that, it’s all a lot of anger and social bubbles now.

  • Gointhefridge@lemm.ee
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    1 month ago

    Forums felt like a real community. Even crummy little forums like my home forum Supercars.net were teeming with life.

    Discovering websites that had highly specific purposes.

    Going down the rabbit hole of knowledge of a niche topic on websites alone. Now Wikipedia has most of the information about something in one page. Because information could be so fragmented then, you could spend hours just learning about a topic through people’s personal websites and forum posts.

    The old internet still felt very hobbled together by people and their simple efforts. The new internet feels very big corporate. Lemmy kinda feels like a slice of the old internet sometimes.

    • paddirn@lemmy.world
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      1 month ago

      The rabbit holes was big for me. I think it started changing after Google Reader and other aggregators came along, but before then you’d go from one site, which would link to another, then to another site, until after an hour you’d gone across a dozen or more different sites and you were on a completely different topic than what you started.

      It still can happen in the current web, but it all feels alot less connected now, every website is like an island almost, no external Links and completely separated from any other sites. Before, finding new sites and content from a site’s ‘Links’ page was a big thing, I feel like that’s how I found alot of stuff. You would just bounce from one site to the next, read what they had, check the Links, see something else, bounce to that and repeat.

      • FinishingDutch@lemmy.world
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        1 month ago

        I really miss webrings. You’d discover the most absurd niche shit people were into. Especially since everyone seemed to have their own Geocities page or something similar. Nobody has one these days, as we all just use social media and big sites.

        It really sucks. You just don’t get that these days now everyone is inside their own little bubble on the net.

  • 1984@lemmy.today
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    1 month ago

    I really like the age of discovery description. Every web site was different and there was web design web sites where designers tried to impress eachother and really push what was possible to do.

    There was hardly any corporations on the web. There was some ads in the beginning but ironically enough, Google built their empire on having a clean search page without ads, which made people flock to them.

    See where we are now…

    I still have the same mindset though. I build open source projects and use mostly open source technologies. I’m not interested in making money from any of that. Money is from work, not from passion.

  • Wiz@midwest.social
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    1 month ago

    My memories of the early Internet were a little earlier. I hope this is ok hearing from a geezer. My first memories of the Internet were from the late 1980s as a young university student. I somehow managed to score a Unix account on the mainframe.

    1. Email, and sending & receiving to Listserves. I kept hoping my girlfriend at a different university could get connected, but it never came to be.

    2. Comedy by email through The Internet Oracle. I was one of the “priests” (editors) of the service for a while. Basically you would send an anonymous email (!!!) to the service that would be sent out to people, and your get a random question out of it, to answer in a humorous manner.

    3. I remember the incredible mind-blowing feeling when I first discovered Internet Relay Chat in about 1988. It was an all text interface, pre-windowed environment.

    4. I still miss Usenet forums.

    • daddy32@lemmy.world
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      1 month ago

      I’m surprised I had to scroll down this far down to find this nostalgic bit.

      Also, pictures did not only appear one by one, when you requested the full size picture, it appeared slowly from top to the bottom, making the whole thing very thrilling.

  • darganon@lemmy.world
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    1 month ago

    There wasn’t anything resembling influencers, and mostly you were talking to other nerds.

    People were much more technically savvy, and creating their own homepages with guestbooks and construction gifs.

  • intelisense@lemm.ee
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    1 month ago

    Downloading music… I was discovering so many cool bands by downloading shitty quality mp3s!

    • gedaliyah@lemmy.world
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      1 month ago

      Even before filesharing, you could just type the name of a song with .wav or later .mp3 and there was a good chance someone had it saved on their personal site

  • Bruncvik@lemmy.world
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    1 month ago

    Geocities. That’s how I lerned HTML. Used their WYSIWYG editor and then tinkered with the code. Built several pages close to my interest, and even scored some free stuff from marketing early online retailers like CDNow.

    Also spent a lot of time browsing other Geocities pages and contacting people with shared interest.

  • barsquid@lemmy.world
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    1 month ago

    A huge portion of websites were labors of love, just someone putting something up as a joke or doing a deep dive into a hobby. Nobody was shopping online in large numbers so there were basically no ads, no SEO, no listicles, no influencers.

  • SanguinePar@lemmy.world
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    1 month ago

    A lot of this thread is hugely familiar and a nice memory.

    I’ll just add one little thing I remember from 96/97ish, the “… ate my balls” phenomenon. I guess nowadays you’d call it a meme format.

    The gist of it was that you would take some cultural icon/celebrity/whatever and add their name to the phrase “…ate my balls”.

    For some reason I remember this as being hilarious at the time. Not so much when recounted in the here and now though :-)

  • coaxil@lemm.ee
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    1 month ago

    Well not late 90s but pre 94 was the best times on the net. As for late 90s internet was not a commercialised mess of brands and much more fun.