It'll never catch on.
March 12, 2019 6:44 AM   Subscribe

Ye Olde World Wide Webbe (not the Internet which has different birthdays), said to have “emerged from a largely benevolent academic atmosphere”, reaches the grand age of thirty, during which time countless website have risen to dominance and fallen into obscurity. To celebrate, Tim is zipping between CERN, London and Nigeria. While browsers have developed, website designs have changed and unevenly more people get online, the underlying issues and uncertain futures perhaps remain. Take the quiz! (20th celebrations in 2009) finish with link to cats here
posted by Wordshore (36 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
I can really gopher this post.
posted by exogenous at 7:14 AM on March 12, 2019 [20 favorites]

I love the web. I owe my career to the web.

So I cannot escape the brutal irony inherent in that WWW "quiz" linked above which manages to include every single piece of internet bullshit that makes me hate using a browser in 2019.

In the words of Brad Frost: Death to Bullshit.
posted by jeremias at 7:17 AM on March 12, 2019 [12 favorites]

Dammit there are a few errors in that post (it's an unchecked draft and I hit post as I had to run outside as a cheese seller of some repute was passing), such as two links being the wrong way round in an unintentionally amusing fashion, but heck am leaving it in a rough-and-ready 1996 HTML way.

That early MetaFilter home page is fascinating, as one user produced 25 FPPs in that week. And is the only one, apart from Matt, posting. Noting he quickly reached 100 FPPs, then stopped submitting them (nearly two decades ago). Hunting around ah an explanation from Matt, and a follow-up comment from a still-active MeFite.

Notepad or Dreamweaver for HTML construction (if you are under 30 then you may need to ask a MeFite what this means)?
posted by Wordshore at 7:19 AM on March 12, 2019 [9 favorites]

And in a weird bit of synchronicity, several of my colleagues from the 1990s who busily built websites for digital library services and projects in UK academia, met up at a conference in Birmingham. Someone took a picture and posted it to Twitter.

Nearly all of those websites, services and projects are long gone, and only findable through Internet Archives. A small number still operate (then and now).
posted by Wordshore at 7:27 AM on March 12, 2019 [1 favorite]

Oh god, I once inherited a Dreamweaver written website but didn't have Dreamweaver and I think that you couldn't even buy a copy at that point so I struggled to hand edit that nightmare for years.
posted by octothorpe at 7:28 AM on March 12, 2019 [5 favorites]

I'm pretty sure the first website I went to was the official site for the band "The Tea Party". In Lynx. On my mother's university faculty shell account.
posted by ODiV at 7:34 AM on March 12, 2019 [4 favorites]

Notepad or Dreamweaver for HTML construction (if you are under 30 then you may need to ask a MeFite what this means)?

Having used both... Notepad, for the love of god.
posted by tobascodagama at 7:38 AM on March 12, 2019 [9 favorites]

finish with link to cats here

“link to cats” with no link and no cats!

Crueler than 2 Poop Months? Take this quiz to find out!!!!
posted by GenjiandProust at 7:42 AM on March 12, 2019 [7 favorites]

Sorry. Im sorry. Im trying to remove it.
posted by Going To Maine at 7:45 AM on March 12, 2019 [1 favorite]

I first read about the World Wide Web in a short article (or possibly an ad) in Science (I think).

I was working as IT guy / office manager for a small environmental non-profit, had probably just: crawled around a dirty basement to replace an Arcnet hub so that the 486s in one of our offices could connect to the Novell network again, drunk some horribly strong and disgusting supermarket brand coffee evilly brewed by one of my colleagues, answered a co-worker's question about Lotus 1-2-3, and wondered if our paychecks would bounce that week. (Ah, youth.)

However -- I do distinctly remember rolling my eyes at the name "world wide web." Yet now, three decades on, the Internet is / seems all-consuming. (And I am considerably grayed by my years in IT communications!)
posted by aught at 7:51 AM on March 12, 2019 [4 favorites]

First saw it looking across the aisle of Boston University's old Cummington St. computer lab in early 1993. I was sitting at a VAX dumb terminal reading a thread on Usenet's alt.punk.hardcore, and the kid on the other side was looking at something via Mosaic.

It was maybe the only time in my life where I saw a new technology and immediately recognized I was looking at something important and maybe transformative.
posted by ryanshepard at 8:00 AM on March 12, 2019 [10 favorites]

"Has the World Wide Web progressed, or regressed, since Bianca's Smut Shack?" was not the kind of question I was expecting to read today.
posted by Wordshore at 8:02 AM on March 12, 2019 [6 favorites]

"Has the World Wide Web progressed, or regressed, since Bianca's Smut Shack?"
I think the answer is, "Yes."
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 8:26 AM on March 12, 2019 [6 favorites]

Notepad or Dreamweaver for HTML construction

There was only one way to use Dreamweaver "properly": never never never never ever leave the coding view. The moment you switched over to the WYSIWYG view, your code would be completely rewritten and it would be garbage.

The horrible impact of accidentally switching views with unsaved changes instilled in me a deep distrust of IDEs that continues to this day, which is why I'll likely use vi for all my coding until the day I die.
posted by davejay at 8:38 AM on March 12, 2019 [15 favorites]

Oh God, my graphic design course tried to teach us the basics of building a website. In dreamweaver. With no coding, using only dreamweaver's own built in tools. If you want a website that is entirely static pages created in illustrator with rollovers in place of buttons... that is how you get that. It was worse than knowing nothing.
posted by stillnocturnal at 8:59 AM on March 12, 2019 [3 favorites]

Has the World Wide Web progressed, or regressed, since Bianca's Smut Shack?

Wow, there's a name I haven't seen in a long long time.

Here's my early WWW story: Back in the day I was trying to build a website for Pinball Expo 1994. We had a lot of friends on Usenet that couldn't come and I wanted to create a site to share the event with them. We had a guy with an Apple QuickTake 100 and -- wow! -- we could share pictures! On the internet! So I hand-coded a little set of HTML pages in Microsoft Notepad and MSPaint.

So I wrote Bianca asking if she would be willing to help host our little site. She refused. Luckily I had a last-minute offer from a friend at Linköping University in Sweden, the computer club there had an NCSA HTTPd server up and running and a bit of disk space.

We got it all pushed up via FTP, using Windows 3.11 and Chameleon TCP/IP, and there it sat...for over 24 years. I think the gang at Lysator forgot about it, or perhaps they keep it up since it's older than Space Jam and regularly pops up on the lists of "top 10 oldest websites still running".

(And tack for 24 years of free hosting, Mr Byers and Linköping!)
posted by mookoz at 9:11 AM on March 12, 2019 [20 favorites]

finish with link to cats here

Needs a perpetual animated UNDER CONSTRUCTION image.
posted by wenestvedt at 9:14 AM on March 12, 2019 [4 favorites]

In the beginning, the World Wide Web was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and has been widely regarded as a bad move.
posted by Eleven at 9:50 AM on March 12, 2019 [12 favorites]

Somewhere I still have a "my web page doesn't suck" t-shirt from Vincent Flander's "Web Pages That Suck".

In 1994 I was busy with web stuff for Microsoft, who were working on converting MSN the service to MSN the website. (It's telling that every developer and designer I knew there used Netscape's browser rather than IE.)

Which makes me think about monumentally bad browsers which fucked the web for years because they got a large installed base and those folks never moved on.

Netscape 4.7? IE6? I think Safari is working on being on that list, if it isn't already.
posted by maxwelton at 11:00 AM on March 12, 2019 [2 favorites]

Ad-based revenue models “reward clickbait and the viral spread of misinformation”. The webpage with this subhead is saturated with sidebar ads and "relevant" bold clickable links to other pages in the middle of the article.
posted by larrybob at 11:21 AM on March 12, 2019 [2 favorites]

I worked at a company in Marin County in the early 90s and there were some Sun Workstations that someone installed Mosiac on. That's where I first saw the WWW. The first website I made, circa 1995, had the URL
posted by larrybob at 11:30 AM on March 12, 2019 [1 favorite]

My first website went up in ‘96. Of course it was about my favorite band, The Fall. I threw a ton of crap at the web and learned what not to do right away.
posted by porn in the woods at 12:55 PM on March 12, 2019 [1 favorite]

I have an amusing career circle: the first real website I made was for my high school library, downloading the latest Netscape betas and otherwise getting the most out of the district’s T3. 24 for years later, I’m still publishing things on the web for a library, just with extra zeroes on the end of every scale.
posted by adamsc at 2:29 PM on March 12, 2019

I launched my first website on 12/31/1995, because my pregnant wife had gone to bed early and I had nothing better to do than learn HTML on New Year's Eve. 3 months later I was working for a web design firm. Today? I'm working for a web design firm. My website is still online and updated regularly too.
posted by COD at 3:36 PM on March 12, 2019 [2 favorites]

This is not the birthday of the World Wide Web. This is, at best, the anniversary of the date of conception of the Web. The gestation period was more than a year and a half, and the Web's actual 30th birthday will be in October 2020. Grar.
posted by heatherlogan at 3:44 PM on March 12, 2019 [5 favorites]

Weird fun fact about my life: I was an alpha and beta tester for Dreamweaver 1.0 and 1.1.

Another weird fun fact: I worked a lot as a tester with the team that created infoseek, which was the best search engine until Google came around. I learned SO FUCKING MUCH about keywords during that time that for the next decade I was the go-to guy for everyone I knew who needed more obscure online research done.

(Those keyword skills don't work anymore due to a lot of reasons about how Google and other search engines work now as opposed to then. I'm sad to have lost my superpower.)
posted by hippybear at 4:42 PM on March 12, 2019 [3 favorites]

maxwelton: Somewhere I still have a "my web page doesn't suck" t-shirt from Vincent Flander's "Web Pages That Suck".

And as a neat complement, I know exactly where my "BBEdit: It Doesn't Suck" t-shirt from 1994 is!
posted by wenestvedt at 7:30 PM on March 12, 2019

It's kinda fun that the CNet page linked in the original post ("Tim Berners-Lee still believes the web can be fixed") launches an [expletive] auto-playing video with sound. There's something that needs to be fixed, right there.
posted by Termite at 12:21 AM on March 13, 2019 [2 favorites]

I also saw Mosaic for the first time in that Boston University basement. I didn’t get it right away; it didn’t occur to me to click the links so I hunted through the menu bar trying to understand how to go to the next page. By the time I graduated I knew I’d be leaving my academic career behind for this newborn industry.
posted by nev at 4:57 AM on March 13, 2019

Ugh. I remember haaaaating the World Wide Web. I just knew it was going to take over and I was going to spend the rest of my life waiting for images to load.

Was I wrong? I was not.
posted by greermahoney at 8:37 PM on March 13, 2019 [1 favorite]

Is this where we show off the first ever site we built?

1996, I'm working on the tech support desk at Coventry University, a friend asked me if I knew anything about "this web thing", and if I could make his band a site.

I didn't of course, but it looked like fun, so I ran out to the newsagents and picked up some kind of "Learn HTML in 24 Hours" book.

Behold the power of the tiled background and Kai's Power Tools.

This slapdash beginning started me on a career that I still love to this day.
posted by garrett at 6:26 AM on March 14, 2019 [2 favorites]

I was a pretty late-comer to the web, not logging in until 1995. The first place I went was and downloaded and printed a picture of Socks the Cat.
posted by octothorpe at 6:30 AM on March 14, 2019 [3 favorites]

I first had my own website somewhere around '95 or '96. The only content that I remember with absolute clarity having posted there was a rant from my 13 year-old self about why affirmative action is a bad thing. So I'm pretty glad that it doesn't exist any more, really.
posted by tobascodagama at 7:54 AM on March 14, 2019 [2 favorites]

Well, I also had a pretty cool logo of a velociraptor, but it was stolen and anyway doesn't make up for the other thing.
posted by tobascodagama at 7:55 AM on March 14, 2019 [1 favorite]

My first memory of the Web was in a Listserv about the Internet, possibly Red Rock Eater News, an announcement that there were now "50 sites on the world wide web". Early 1993?
posted by scalefree at 8:51 AM on March 14, 2019 [1 favorite]

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