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Jul. 4th, 2005 @ 09:15 am uncle kevin's old-tyme internet stories
Current Music: The Band - The Weight

I've been on the Internet for a while. Not as long as a lot of people, and not long enough to remember the Hacker Age from which most of the good things about geek culture were born, but ten years is definitely a while. Especially in Internet time, in which an unannounced one-month hiatus from an oft-frequented IRC channel will spawn rumors that you are dead. A lot has happened in these ten years--empires have risen and fallen, fortunes have been made and lost, heroes have been born, wars have been fought, civilization has collapsed at least twice, thriving communities with unique identities and cultures have vanished into nothingness at the press of a key, and an exponentially growing influx of increasingly normal people have turned enclaves into cities into nations into worlds. We didn't start the fai-yuh, no we didn't light it but we tried to fight it.

This is disconcerting. I am still used to being an early member of the AOL generation, an unwitting scout for the invasion of clueless, inexperienced, disrespectful newbs who brought a shameful end to a more civilized age. (Granted, I never actually used AOL, but it's not like The Microsoft Network--now known as MSN--was any better. And I was an MSN user for far too long.) I know it wasn't my fault that corporate service providers decided to unleash the masses upon the Internet without any edification about its unspoken rules of harmony and respect, but I can't help but feel personally responsible for shattering hackerdom's dreams of anarchist utopia. Not that it matters anymore. Now, not only have the invaders seized control of the Internet, but the invaders have in turn been overwhelmed by another wave of invaders, who have in turn been overwhelmed by another wave of invaders, who in turn have been overwhelmed by everyone else. And I was there when it ended; I boarded the ship just as it was beginning to sink. I was there when the Internet was the future, when the Internet was going to revolutionize everything and change the way we would think about things and interact with people and lead us into the mythical, awe-inspiring twenty-first century. I've been around just long enough to see big corporations hijack the ideals of that almost-forgotten era, turning them into meaningless slogans that they contine to stuff down our throats today, and I've been around just long enough to realize that it is no longer true. The Internet is no longer the future. It is the now. The digital frontier is gone, its pioneers the leaders of the very companies that shattered their dreams. I can't imagine how unsettling this must be for the generation that came before me. I mean, if all this change makes me feel old, imagine how it must feel to be Joe Hacker, Class of 1981. (Which, I am perfectly aware, is what some of you are. Congratulations, folks! If someone you still think of as a newbie is getting all nostalgic about a time that, to you, was probably not all that long ago, consider how ancient you must be.)

Naturally, I've met a lot of people since my first Telnet chat back in 1995, and in the chaos of revolution after revolution I've lost touch with a lot of them. As the Internet has taught me, if nothing else, that the world is a small place and is growing ever smaller, I figure I might drop some names from forums and chatrooms I used to frequent. You might know someone I used to know, or perhaps even be someone I used to know--hey, it's happened before.

Places where I used to post or lurk:

1995 : MSN Forums
phoeicon (countless google searches for this guy's name have turned up nothing)
1996 - 1998 : Lucca's Guestbook / Belome's Java Chat / Lazer's Java Chat / #gameswebzine
Indigo, Mephista, Lazer, Belome, SirTMagus, ~Animan~, carrot
1996 - 2001 : Cafe Eblana Message Base / Cafe Eblana War Zone
Kupek, Tortolia, Shawn David Struck (theotherbaldwin), John Risser, Drexle, Torgo, SineSwiper, Khameleon, 404 Not Found/Angelkiller 404, Rosebud/Maian, RetardCow
1998 - 2001 : The Mana Tree House
Bob Rork, The UnaBom(b)er, Andrew Tamoefolau, Thanatos; see "Cafe Eblana Message Base"

Places where I currently post or lurk:

1999 - present : User Friendly ARS
2001 - present : b3ta
2002 - present : Kyhm's Forums / #en
2002 - present : Dumbrella (Achewood / Wigu / Super Mega Party of Fun)
2005 - present : eleet speek! (Higher Voltage)

I usually go by DoppelgangerX4, Doppelganger-X4, and "erf" spelled with any number of "r"s.

Excluded are forums for MMOs I play, since I usually stop posting when I lose interest in the games. Also spacefem, which I visit only occasionally.

Still can't believe it's been ten years. For all I know, today could be my ten-year Internet anniversary. I should do something to celebrate.

I just noticed there are no stories in this entry. Ha ha, fooled you!

Next on Uncle Kevin's Old-Tyme Internet Stories: My First Terminal Connection and the Music of Dial-Up.
About this Entry
Date:July 5th, 2005 01:31 pm (UTC)
(Permanent Link)
Chuckle. I've been on the internet since before the internet existed for 'normal' people. My communications experience started with dialing in to local BBS's, around 93-94. Man, I'm glad those days are gone. SysOps could really be jerks, but mostly, the BBS scene around where I lived wasn't very interesting. Not the most populous area, so not many boards, and I couldn't justify making long distance calls to connect anywhere else.

I can't believe the modem days. I started with a 2400 Baud clunker, and several months later was able to upgrade to a 19200 Baud. I still have both of these, though what I'm planning for them in the future I have no idea. That was back in the days when upgrades made a huge huge difference -- this thing really was 8X faster. But translated into Kb/s, it's absurd, perhaps 2Kb/s max throughput this thing. If your phone lines were good. I remember that the protocol you used to download stuff was important, and ZModem was the fastest one.

Around 1995-6 or so I got a connection to the real internet through my dad's university, which again was dial-up, and we didn't have another phone line, so usage was a bit limited. Aw hell, these stories are lame.

What I wonder about nowadays is the people who are kids now. Many of them are growing up in a world where an always-on high-bandwidth pipe is the norm, rather than the exception. I met a kid on IRC a couple of months ago who had set up his own OpenBSD box to use as an irc server. I really mean kid. He was 12. Various unixes are freely available to him, network resources that were previously unimaginable are available to him.

What would I have accomplished by now if I'd had a real command line instead of DOS and a real TCP/IP network connection instead of a fucking modem? I was about 12 when I started on the internet.

It all comes down to the basic nature versus nurture question, I guess. Probably my nature would have won out anyway, but it is sometimes frustrating to realize how my early years were wasted with crappy technology.

- Will