Feed on

2. Worldwide Web

Of course, by the time I got to college, in the mid 1990s, the World Wide Web was stretching its fledgling wings and pondering the methods of flight. Geoshitties, Angelfire, and AOL were enabling more and more people to pollute their server spaces with webpages that loaded like ass due to their cumbersome and distracting “wallpaper” backgrounds, embedded MIDI, and animated GIFs, most notably a rotating mailbox, a tiny letter which wrote itself and folded itself, and some form of “under construction” motto. As Something Awful proclaims, the Internet makes you stupid. What is astounding, however, is that people did have to put a fair amount of work into creating those early, shitful websites, and the fact that they did it made it cool, even if it was just a repository of sexist forwarded e-mail jokes, animted GIFS, and pictures of the users' cats.

Because these early websites loaded so slowly through our wheezing 14.4k modems, the ever-clever pundits in the print and broadcast media took to referring to the Worldwide Web as the Worldwide Wait. Oh, ho, ho, ho, ho, weren't they so very funny? This slogan was, of course, championed by those same wits in your office who say “TGIF” and “Hot enough for ya?” I bet they even had a badly photocopied and re-photocopied copy of the Dilbert strip where Ratbert becomes “roadkill on the Information superhighway.” Because that's just darn punny


So I bought my first computer secondhand from my friend Jason when he upgraded. It was a first-generation Pentium 60mhz with a 14.4k modem, but I had gotten into the Honors dorm my Sophomore year (the Nerdery, Rob used to scathingly call it) and they had ethernet connections so I bought my first piece of hardware, an ethernet card, and talked Erik, one of the guys from our D&D group, into installing it for me. Ho-oly crap, stuff loaded fast. I could watch cartoons online…there was this thing called Shockwave, and was it ever nifty! I watched John Kricfalusi's video for a Bjork song. I discovered Newgrounds.com via the Telebubby Funland, and one night, while surfing with Yahoo, looking for “sarcastic humor” coming across the URL for Hissyfit which was my first ever encounter with a web-based BBS, and probably my most rewarding. This is where my expectations of the Internet finally began to be met. Intelligent people who could spell. Who liked to read! Who weren't afraid to be feminists! There was a torrent of ideas being exchanged, small firefights, and extremely tight-reins modding by Wing Chun (for whom the site is now a personal journal) which kept the local zoo animals in their proper habitats. When the Hissyfit Fora closed down we 'fitters dispersed to the 4 winds, though mostly to Threeway Action.com, The Usual Suspects, and Mookville. I'm registered at all three boards, as Fahrvergnugen, but I'm not really that active of a poster at any of them. I'm intermittently active on 3WA, but I never got as into it as I did at HF. They've got a good chat, though. I play there pretty often.

Around the time I started dicking around online a lot, reading Hissyfit and other Chick-Click affiliates, as well as some of the early online Journals (Gwen Zapeda's Trailer-trash housewife site, Tomato Nation, and Pamie) which I didn't really realize were a special kind of webpage. I simply saw them as very good “about me” homepages which were updated a lot, and didn't have animated GIFS, eye-bleeding backgrounds, and embedded MIDI. After I followed the Great Hissyfit Migration to 3WA, I learned that these webpages were properly called “Journals,” and that there were some called “blogs” which were shorter, and focussed more on sharing cool links the writer had found online. I learned that there was actually a thriving community based around journalling, and that they had conventions sometimes, just like comic book geeks and Trekkies, but more literary, and without all the funky costuming. I thought, “hell, I used to keep a longhand diary, why not have a go at an online one. Maybe once in a while I will make someone laugh.” So, I started my own but it kind of blew. Once in a while I had a good entry, but on the whole, my presence is sporadic as is my quality. I joined at LJ to take part in some of the communities, and decided it is actually very fun. I'd been biased against LJ because you always hear about the drama, and the people who type like they're texting on a mobile phone, and the Angelfire-level sophistication, but I find with LJ it is much like the rest of the Internet. If you seek out quality, you get quality. Be that as it may, I'll be migrating my Diaryland archives to my new non-LJ journal when I get up the gumption to do so. Diaryland just ain't cutting it for me, especially not when a package-deal hookup with WordPress comes with my regular website host. Speaking of which, anyone wanting a topnotch hosting company, go to Dreamhost. They fucking rock, and they aren't paying me to say so. Thank you for telling me about them and for helping me bungle my way though setting up.

Leave a Reply