Opinion: The Internet is Broken… All Over Again

Uphill Both Ways, Without A Paddle, And It Was Glorious

In the days before Google and social media there was a big player on the internet, the portal. Web portals still exist today but, they were once the main way to find new things on the Internet. At the time search didn’t always work that well, and you may not have known what to search for anyway. In fact early search was often curated by people and in that way were more like the portals than what Google would be.

Horizontal portals fed you the best of the web, and often contained their own search engine. MSN even had to link to Yahoo and others for search when it started. Seriously, check it out here on The Wayback Machine. It really was an amazing time to be alive.

I preferred Lycos honestly. You would click something on the portal or something you weren’t really looking for from the search engine and ride the hyperlink super highway for hours, just surfing the web. Unless someone needed to use the phone. Only more fortunate people had a second phone line or, even better, a T1 line.

If you had a hobby you might want to find a particular site or a vertical portal. Vertical portals exist now as micro-hubs for governments and multinational conglomerates. Glorified landing pages to help you navigate the bureaucracy. Even that now is becoming friendlier with wiz-bang JavaScript and powerful Google Search Appliances.

“Why not just Google what you’re looking for?” You may be wondering. Well, you couldn’t. With the search engines of the time you might find what you wanted after an hour or two and thirty plus pages in. Unless you knew the web address you wanted, or what you wanted was insanely popular, you typically spent hours or even days looking for things.

Really, most people either already knew the site they wanted after hearing it on TV or from friends, or they stuck to the portals. Everybody surfed the hyperlinks, though.

The End Of An Era

It is probably not fair to say it all ended with Google, but not long after the Internet really changed. Sure, forums and message boards where huge, but over time they would give way to fancier things like Yahoo Answers, Reddit and Pinterest. Chatrooms became Facebook and privacy died along with it.

Gone was having to write down or bookmark all of your favorite sites. The cloud never forgets, and now it predicts your every move. No longer must I remember to type the root at the end of a domain name, or query port 80 for HTTP, because HTML and the World Wide Web are not just some new service on the Internet anymore.

A Taste Of What’s To Come

So what does any of that trip down memory lane have to do with today? Well, we might have a bit of a revolution on our hands. The big social media companies like Google, Facebook, and Twitter have taken a massive ideological left turn. The why doesn’t matter anymore. The Internet as we know it is broken and the new rebels have arrived to fix it. If history tells us anything, not all of them will survive, either. Do you, remember myspace or GeoCities? I used them both.

The race for faster search and a better chatroom are over. Today’s fight is an old one. Liberty, or uniformity. For a bunch of companies waxing on about diversity, they seem to hate anyone who is different from them. So the new kids want to save freedom of speech and diversity of opinion. I know a few people who might have an interest in that, and I am curious if Minds will be the next household name, or the next Lycos. So how about we find out.


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