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Last week I talked about how the 'net's nature of instant publishing is the perfect platform for navel-gazing (where we are now) and prognosticating (where are we going). My friend Sarah responded that the third category should be nostalgia, or where we've been. I'm in a nostalgia phase.
I've been playing on this network for about three years now. Which doesn't seem like very long, but in "Internet-years" (where time is very wide) it's a long, long time. Three years ago, there was no web. Netscape didn't exist, Mosaic was just a glint in Andreesen's eye. There were no background images, no ad banners, no jpegs. Just ASCII. Lots and lots of ASCII.
When I first logged on, I dove into The Well at 2400 baud. Email, gopher, usenet, the beast that is picospan (the Well's conferencing system), MUDs, etc. All in glorious ASCII text. Black on white. When I upgraded my modem to 9600 baud I thought it couldn't get any better! When all you're looking at is text, there's not much need for anything faster.
I've been riding a nostalgia wave lately. Yes, I surf, yes at 28.8 or sometimes T1 speeds at work. And yes, I'm devoted fan of c|net, suck, Hotwired, Urban Desires, etc., etc., etc. And yes, I'm excited about Java. But lately I'm getting the most out of the 'net by reading mail and usenet news via the palmtop at 2400 baud. When it comes right down to it, the web's background images, Java animations and floating jpegs are all just eye candy. All I'm looking for is the ASCII.
Other pieces about miscellany: