Internet Culture Then and Now
// Posted by Molly on 04/07/2012 (12:25 AM)
I found a collection of videos on one of WIRED Magazine’s blogs called Underwire. This particular blog on WIRED.com describes itself as “Working the Wired culture beat, from movies and music to comics and the web.” Last week, author Angela Watercutter posted a few videos made by web editor Jo Luijten. The videos are of what Luijten imagines the social networking sites and video games of today would have looked like in the 80s and 90s. I think these videos are funny, informative and a great way to wrap up a semester of exploring digital America. The videos are meant to show progress in web culture as well as to preserve the memory of an earlier, less advanced internet. In order to create the videos, Luijten had to create a program to mimic what he believed an older version of these websites would look like. Ironically, he wouldn’t have been able to create the videos about a fictional past without modern technology. Here is a link to Jo Luijten’s video, “If Facebook were invented in the 90s.”
After watching a few of Luijten’s videos about social networking sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, I realized that we are part of a generation that will barely remember the days of AOL, floppy disks and dial-up internet. My reaction to these videos is similar to watching a home video of my younger sisters and thinking, “they grow up so fast!” From the image quality to the few extra seconds it takes to load a page in “If Facebook were invented in the 90s,” I began to recognize how normal today’s internet has become to me. An unclear picture seems obnoxiously old fashioned and it frustrates me when a web page takes over a second to load. Normalcy is a photo on my computer as crystal clear as seeing the image in real life and an instantaneous change when I click on a link.
For something that has become such a significant part of our daily lives, we rarely remember that the Internet has just recently grown to be what it is today. I cannot imagine going back to Luijten’s Facebook of the 90s and feeling excited about the idea of it, if it were the way it is in the video. However, I quickly remembered that in the 80s and 90s, future social networking sites were the unknown that propelled the constant innovation and desire for improvement. Curiosity and imagination made internet culture what it is today. Though it is difficult to fully grasp the progress we have made from the 90s to the internet we know today, it is even more amazing to think about what will happen to web culture in the next 20 or 30 years.
Our generation looks back on Luijten’s fictional videos much like a child looks back on the toddler version of itself riding a bike with training wheels. It is mind-blowing to think that we will one day look back on our bike-riding selves, free of training wheels, happy with Facebook, Angry Birds and Twitter, and think: “Remember the days when we couldn’t drive!?”