Friday, June 24, 2016

How Entertaining Is This 2001 Internet Field Trip?

In the months leading up to the launch of the site The Ringer, we heard over and over how Bill Simmons' newest project would be very different from the dearly-beloved-yet-deceased Grantland. Secretly, though, most of us hoped for Grantland 2.0. After all, Simmons was bringing back much of the old gang, a la Fleetwood Mac in 2013. So why couldn't the new site be very similar to Grantland?

The Ringer has been very enjoyable so far, and one of the site's distinguishing features has been its technology coverage. While that isn't exactly my area of expertise (here's my much-maligned cell phone...
"Now with texting capabilities!"
), I have enjoyed many of the site's tech articles so far. My favorite was Alyssa Bereznak's funny retrospective about AOL's painfully dated paperback guide to the internet. Just more than a decade later, it's fun to look back and poke fun at the Neanderthal-esque way people used the Web. If I traveled back in time, with the scant present-day tech knowledge I've accrued, I could run Silicon Valley in the late 1990s. Anyways, I think I can add to Bereznak's noticings.

While cleaning out my classroom the other day, I came across this 2001 book:

An Internet Field Trip? I'm in! Here are some of the funny features of this hardcover, which of course smells like a musty old library book:
  • A 2001 Website was called a "Netsite":

  • The book's author, Erin Hovanec, predicted the internet's most popular use -- PORN! Well, kind of. Here are her exact words: "It's possible to find tons of free and fun stuff on the Internet by using a search engine." Educational books don't get much more graphic than that.
  • Apparently, you needed a modem back then to log onto the "Net." I still don't know what a modem is. Do we still use modems? (Maybe I wouldn't have been able to run Silicon Valley...)
  • According to one of the online sources Hovanec cites, Europe had a population of 730 million in 2001. According to today's internet, there are almost 739 million people living on the continent. God, this globe is an unfathomably big place. Just another reason to be thankful for the "World Wide Web."
  • Hovanec included an internet photo of The Louvre, anticipating that I would plank on the structure 11 years later. She sagely prophesied one of the biggest trends in internet history:

  • The time at the top of each Webpage in the book reads "2:37", indicating that these are not actual screenshots from the internet but instead a stock background. Screenshots must have been impossible for the everyman back then.
  • There are reindeer in Europe? Is the North Pole in Europe?
  • This little girl is sitting on a mouse:

Good Internet Field Trip, gang. Make sure your buddy made the trip back on the cheese-bus and/or computer mouse. 

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