I’m going back to the Internet of the 2000s. Here is why

Photo by Tobias Tullius on Unsplash

Internet of 2021 is exciting. We have lots of platforms, online stores, and endless possibilities to express our opinion. The only problem that we have is that it doesn’t feel like an internet that promotes free speech. It still has something to offer and the future looks promising, but we have some problems as well.

Internet in 2021 promotes a highly curated narrative targeted to serve the interest of the “left” most of the time. Before we come to conclusions let’s start by looking at what has changed during the last 20 years and how it correlates with my personal story.

CRT monitors, wheezing modem sounds, and three button computer mouses. Could you find anything appealing already?

A walk down a memory lane…

The author playing “Need for Speed 1" (DOS) in 1998

I have been introduced to computers at an early age thanks to my dad. I was raised in a small town in the southern part of Russia and every mention of technologies and the Internet made my interest go to the roof. It’s a World Wide Web that allows you to connect with other people, share your opinion, and stay completely anonymous. Possibilities were endless and we were seeing it becoming better and better right in front of our eyes. How great is that?

It seemed like the Internet of that time was filled with enthusiasm and people exploring the communication options. However, it was also slow, unreliable, and chaotic. I miss that last part.

Chaotic means it was going in every possible direction and there was no specific coordinated spot that wired everything together. Was it good or bad?

Let’s think about it for a moment.

Logistics of online Internet usage of the early 2000s

Logistics of the internet back in that time involved making a large number of movements, let’s recap those:

  1. Connecting to the Internet using a dial-up modem
  2. Downloading your emails
  3. Downloading software applications from different sources and sometimes updates. Updates were not as frequent as today.
  4. Downloading information, such as books, images, text, and other
  5. Disconnecting from the Internet once the session is finished

Doesn’t sound exciting, right? It really doesn’t because everything was done in a rapid session to avoid additional charges for the time spent online. However, there were a few things that were superior in some ways that we should discuss. We’ll start by discussing the last point in the list.

Offline usage

This is the main difference here. Most of the work in early 2000 was done offline. Internet was optional and only served as a way of accessing data when necessary. In fact, people even composed emails while staying offline most of the time. They only connected to send those emails.

It kept up the productivity, allowed us to avoid noisy notifications and the Internet was actually more like a tool. A constant connection was not forced upon us.

That’s why online Web applications is still a hard pill to swallow for me. Even 20 years later. It seems like a downgrade to me. But the world has moved on and who cares how do I feel about it?

Search

Search technology was in the early stages back then. It’s bad and good at the same time. It’s much better now since the algorithm is pointed towards the quality websites and websites that generally better quality-wise.

But at the same time, it’s all based on ads and it tracks user movements around the Web. Search engines became too smart and base the search ranking based on user’s preferences.

Internet search 20 years ago was displaying various content on the front pages. Useful and malicious, but that felt more like a real experience. Not everything should be based solely on advertisement and UI experience, right?

Things were a little bit more “spicy” back then. Was it good or bad — it’s a personal preference.

Decentralization

This is the first word that comes to my mind when I think about the Internet of that era. There were many resources available and creating home pages was a must. People uploaded whatever they felt right.

Since most of the pages were home pages there was a lot of danger and viruses around. However, it taught me a lesson to guard my data and avoid making online mistakes as much as possible.

Since decentralized Web means freedom of expression and you can share whatever data you want it’s particularly hard to stop the free flow of information.

Peer to Peer technology brought us various opportunities. For the most part, it allowed to download the data more efficiently. This technology could be used for good and bad, but it’s a topic of another discussion. It’s a tool that allows decentralized data transfer opportunities and that itself is a miracle.

It’s the opposite of what we have right now. When we have Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram the flow of information is precisely limited. Big Tech companies have access to control panels and orchestrate the flow of information any way they want.

How to return back to the Internet of the 2000s?

No, I’m not suggesting to throw away your computer and smartphone and buy a dial-up modem. I’m suggesting implementing patterns that will make you aware of how your data is used and how it’s processed. I’ve discussed a few points in the article about privacy, but to have a bigger picture that’s how it looks like:

  1. Opt-out of default solutions and options from Big Tech companies accordingly. Use it when needed, but also explore alternatives.
  2. Instead of using the Internet as a source of endless entertainment, consider using it more for learning and creating. Spend less time scrolling the news and read books instead, for example.
  3. Consider the world of Open Source applications. There are many good applications available that do not require a subscription or your Internet browser. Yes, those can even be used offline.
  4. Create your own content. Own your distribution platform, if you can.
  5. Re-think your digital subscriptions. Do you actually need those?

On a positive note…

It might sound like I’m praising the old Internet more than the current iteration. Not at all. Technology advancement in those 20 years is more than obvious. I’m just highlighting the fact that we are giving too much power into single hands those times.

New platforms such as LBRY, Minds, and BitChute are proving that we still have the power to choose as users. We even have a choice of using one smartphone model or another and what firmware would be installed there.

We have a lot of power in our hands. We just need to be more cautious of what we consider as a default option and what communication channels make our communication going smoothly without altering our voices.

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Nomad lifestyle writer. Passionate about breaking software— QA Engineer. My Travel & Tech YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/c/nomadicdmitry

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