The nostalgic world wide web
A common theme emerges among people born in the 70s and 80s, who grew up when the world wide web (internet) was still young. They miss the “good old days”, the pre-2010 internet when things weren’t as commercialised. A time when IRC and MSN Messenger were common place, MySpace was the new kid on the block and you had bookmarked hundreds of fascinating Geocities sites.
I too feel this sentiment from time to time and I’m not alone:
Down the rabbit hole…
We use to spend countless hours browsing one website to another, following the “friends of this website” links going down rabbit holes on topics we never would have encountered otherwise. I remember looking at the clock reading 3am and wondering why I’m still up, reading a website about bee keeping.
It took me a while to understand exactly what I missed about the nostalgic world wide web.
I miss the effort
I miss reading usenet / blogs / websites where a person devoted to that subject puts effort into sharing that information with the world. The website didn’t have to be pretty, in most cases they weren’t, however I consumed that content knowing this was someones passion - and that made it interesting.
In a modern internet it takes mere seconds to post content online. We are even encouraged to not try very hard with things like Twitter. It is disappointing.
There is still hope!
There is plenty of content out there but I believe it is harder to locate due to world wide web being commercialised. Here are some of my favourites:
- Wiby - “The Wiby search engine is building a web of pages as it was in the earlier days of the internet.”. I personally bookmark Wiby Surprise and discover some fascinating sites.
- Million Short - “we aim to provide alternative methods for organising, accessing, and discovering the vast web of information on the Internet”. You can easily search for a topic and remove the top n number of popular sites leaving the lesser known possibly more interesting.
- Reddit - Some sub-reddits are amazing communities of people helping each other and sharing content. I use Reddit Random to find interesting sub-reddits.
If you struggle to keep track of everything, using an RSS Reader can help. I’ve used RSS for a long time and its helped me keep up to date with very niche topics. If you do operate a blog or website, please enable RSS feeds!
Contribute and Encourage
The world wide web was built for knowledge transfer. If you are passionate about something - share it with the world, there are plenty of places to do this for free online.
If you come across someones website that you enjoyed, reach out to them. Over the years I have emailed plenty of individuals encouraging them to continue sharing. When you do, they are usually surprised anyone is reading their content and are usually very happy you reached out.
Please reach out to me if you’ve had similar experiences.