plinko: Nostalgia (Default)
[personal profile] plinko
I learned today that my Worst Nightmare concerning the internet is soon come to pass. It's a horror that few people can imagine, and fewer still will sympathize with. I feel as if I am about to be...erased. My digital identity will fall into the crevice of time, finally succumbing to the inevitable march of progress that invariably consumes all things internet. Gopher? Not even remotely relevant. Geocities? Nowhere to be found. ICQ? Gone. Usenet? Barely chugging along somewhere. Having a .plan file? LOLWUT?


Oh thank god. It's still there and occasionally being some people. Phew.

And yet, the worst thing to ever happen EVER will occur in less than a month. For, you see... has been sold.

Why are you laughing? This is no laughing matter. Did you not hear me?


Don't make me whip out the /blink tags.

I first signed up for my account, I believe, in late 1994. I wanted a place to keep THINGS independent of my school account, because I didn't want to get kicked out of school for my online idiocy. It was actually a pretty good idea, considering that I later had my email read and phone tapped by the United States Customs Agency / FBI for some of my (rather tame by today's standards) internet shenanigans. Also, they followed me around in white vans and possibly went through my trash. DO YOU SEE HOW I'M STILL PARANOID BECAUSE OF THIS SHIT? THANKS, US GOVERNMENT, FOR MAKING ME A PARANOID CONSPIRACY-THEORIST WEIRDO JUST BECAUSE YOU DIDN'T GET THAT A WEBSITE CALLED "BLACK MARKET BABIES" WAS A JOKE.

But, I digress into paranoid delusions of internet infamy.

I chose an odd username. "Mindglue". It meant nothing really in particular. Just "sticky gooey things in your brain". But, over the next seventeen was MINE. This random username attached to a short domain name of "" became as essential to my internet-identity as a fingerprint. There was no other. Just me. was my email address. Always.

I have seen many things come and go on the internet in seventeen years. I remember the first picture I ever downloaded. It took a good five to ten minutes for a single picture to show up. I retrieved it via gopher on a 2400 baud modem. It was a "live" picture of "Bonfire" being built. (Bonfire is/was a yearly tradition at the school I attended, Texas A&M University wherein the students made a fuckall-huge pile of logs and then set them ablaze. You know, like a bonfire. Except on a massive scale.) And by live, I mean that this state of the art camera took a new picture every fifteen minutes. Every fifteen minutes? INCREDIBLE!

2400 baud? Ancient technology akin to riding an Amish buggy on a MagLev track.

Gopher? Nobody uses gopher anymore -- it was replaced by the magic of the "world wide web".

And there's no longer even an official campus bonfire. A few years later a collapse of the stack would kill twelve students. The university stopped officially supporting the tradition after that.

I remember the first month that Yahoo appeared. There had been web indexes before Yahoo. But, there was something sleek and easy-to-navigate about this site. Back then, Yahoo wasn't a search engine. It was a category-based catalog of websites, each one individually linked to the proper directory. Over the course of just a day or two, I pretty much looked at every directory and every site I thought might be even remotely interesting. I can say, almost definitively, that at one point in the past I really had seen the entire surface-visible world wide web.

I made my first website in 1995. It was a monstrosity of links, and spinning .gifs, and purple divider bars, and personal glorification of my own awesomeness. People used to do this. They made personal websites with a page of their favorite links, music lyrics, some quotes or rants ripped from their old .plan file, and a grainy scanned picture or two of themselves. There were no social networks. No Facebook or Twitter. There wasn't even Livejournal. Just email. And Usenet. And IRC. And MUDs.

I'm not even old. Or really technically savvy. I'm not an elite hax0r or some guy who thought up some protocol. I'm just your typical end-user. I'm just a person who decided this internet thing was for me, and got there as soon as I heard about it. It's been a weird and wonderful journey. I've watched the internet blossom from something used by ubernerds and a few university students into something that's an essential part of our shared reality. I remember a time before .com was more prolific than .edu, .mil, or .gov. I remember the first influx of clueless AOL users.

But, nostalgia doesn't suit the internet. Even though you can visit the Internet Archive Wayback Machine, when things are gone from the internet, they are gone. When they are replaced by something new or better, the old toy gets abandoned by the side of the road, and eventually just...disappears. How many websites have come and gone? How many email addresses have fallen into oblivion? But, this is the way of things. It is the price paid for progress, for the turbo-speed ZOOM into the future that the internet brings.

And now, has been sold. It's been sold before, but the new owner has always been someone amenable to keeping the old shell accounts and email addresses active for cronies like me who just can't bare to part with this single shining symbol of internet past. I'm sure there are a lot of them out there, these old islands... And a lot of them are far older than mine. But was my place. My home. It's where I've kept all of my internet STUFF for 17 years. was me. And won't be. Now I will be someone new for the first time in almost two decades. I will be Doesn't sound quite as flashy, but... I guess I have no choice but to let go.

Seventeen years.

Seventeen years...a long forever in internet-time.

If I had a child instead of getting an email account, they'd be finishing up high school and preparing for college. I guess this is a little fraction of what it feels like when you watch your kid leave the nest. They aren't yours anymore. will become a domain for some new company. I'm still part of's past, but... I can't claim it as part of my identity anymore. It's disconcerting. It's almost distressing. And I want to throw a bit of a tantrum and refuse to accept this reality.

But, there's nothing to be done. And I'll get the fuck over it. And the internet will invariably march on, morphing and growing and consuming our lives.

Oh well.

At least I still have you, LiveJournal. For now.


January 2012


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