Saturday, June 28, 2008

Oh, the interwebs -- ten years and still kludging

A belated happy 10th birthday to my other domain, cygnals.com.

When I graduated university in 1995, Internet access was from only one room in the school, and I did everything through a shell (text-based) interface. I knew how to check my email (with Pine), and I could use IRC.

Some of the other students were checking out something new called Mosaic, which was a graphical interface to something new called the World Wide Web. I wasn't that interested. Hell, we had gopher, newsgroups, muds, all that cool stuff. Graphics? Pfft!

A while later, my friend Cindy, who'd been schooled in journalism and didn't have much interest in computers beyond the page-layout programs of the day, started to learn about HTML. She told me a few basics -- that it was a matter of putting tags around text to make them bold or italic or whatever, and adding links and images.

So, I picked up a book called HTML For Dummies and set about learning. This was back in the era where the BLINK tag was brand new. In hindsight, the HTML of the day was basic basic basic. Tables were new and controversial and probably not quite standard. Internet Explorer hadn't been invented, if I recall correctly.

I set up a little web site at Toronto's first real ISP, but I was still viewing everything in black and white text through a little program called Lynx. That forced me to design all my web stuff to look decent both in plain text and on the Netscape of the day. It built some habits that stood well for the time -- keep images as compressed as possible (GIF only, natch) and always use the ALT tags so people could get around. It was a rare treat to go to a machine hooked up to "real" internet with a "real" browser and see if the graphics looked like they were "supposed to".

When that ISP shut down, I moved to Interlog. Interlog was bought by someone, which was bought by someone else, etc. You remember the tech bubble. Rogers@Home came along and I got into the high-speed era.

1998 rolled around, and with all that HTML-ing experience under my belt -- all by hand, kids --that's when I registered cygnals.com. And old friend from the BBS days, Vic Metcalfe at Zymurgy Systems, had his own hosting company, and graciously hosted the web site.

As best as I can tell, that was back in 1998. I noticed the date a month or two ago when the domain came up for renewal again. I finally moved away from Network Solutions, which was one of the only places you could register a name back in those days.

Ten years.

Ten years is a long long long time on the internets. Much of the stuff over at http://www.cygnals.com/ is still about that old. My 1998-era web design skills just don't hold up. I moved away from being a geek at just the time being a geek was starting to pay off and be cool. The internet passed me by in a lot of ways. I'd love to tidy up the old site and make it pretty again, but it seems like it'd be so much work. Meh. This blog works fine.

And now it's almost time to renew the bigasssuperstar.com domain for another few years (and get away from register.com).

I saw a news story this week about how the internet's naming authority is about to open up the net to a free-for-all of domain names. The old-timey geek in me thinks that's just wrong. Wrong wrong wrong. The whole idea of a hierarchical domain name system seemed so bloody efficient. Top-level domains, and you work your way down. If it can be anything-dot-anything, that just feels like chaos.

Then again, the net is a lot more chaotic now than it used to be. Back in the "early days", there was so little content to go around, being a little fish in a little pond was enough. Now you really have to be somebody to be somebody. I don't even think I'm the #1 Scott Simpson on the net any more!

And in the eyes of Google, I'm not somebody any more. I've got bad PR, so to speak.

I was wondering this week why my PayPerPost opportunities had dried up to dessicated remnants of the drizzling shits. It turns out my Google PageRank has fallen.

My PageRank is zero. Zero! Yeah, I guess it's probably because I do the PPP thing in the first place. (Tangent: anyone remember when you had to set up all your internet settings manually through a Winsock program, and PPP was one of the protocol options you could choose when buying your ISP subscription? No? Just me? Yeah, I'm old.)

One thing that could, as I understand it, get my PageRank back up is to have inbound links from relevant, well-ranked web sites. Many thanks to Cindy, Rasheed and the couple of others who've linked here from their blogs. I totally dig your spirit. But if any other readers come here for something more than "big ass pics" and other Google-stumbling, hey, hook a fella up. Blogroll me or somethin', would ya? Maybe?

So, as I approach my 35th birthday this summer, I say happy birthday to a part of me I've spent some years distancing myself from -- the relics of my old, excessive, immature, embarrassing life on the net at cygnals.com.

4 comments:

  1. Well written. Dude, you were always on top of trends when it came to technology and I always admired your zine publishing.
    I think it's amazing you've had the domain that long.
    Gigababy.com turns 10 next year for me. Crazy.
    You were a trailblazer and you know it.
    You and I were online when all we thought it would ever be good for was looking at dirty pictures - remember LOL. So true. Isn't that the industry that truly built the internet?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Oh, I remember ... that seems like a long time ago to me, too. No more of that! Congrats on the pending decade for your domain, too. It's crazy to think what this computer thing will look like in another ten or fifteen years.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Let's have a moment for those born in 1973...
    WE ROCK !!
    Nice post; enjoyed the flashbacks. Got my first internet connnection in gee... 94 or 95 with a 14.4 modem. Oy. And hey I went with Rogers@home too!!! Sad thing is I still have a Windows 95 disk in my desk drawer... LOL !!!
    One question though: what exactly is the benefit of paying for your own domain name?? I've been on blogger for 4 yrs now and often wondered what the difference is ...

    ReplyDelete
  4. hmog:

    The benefit? Hmm... a stable, memorable identifier online. And with the PayPerPost people, many of the advertisers won't offer opportunities to dot-blogspot or dot-livejournal addresses. I guess having your own registered name gives them a greater sense of permanency. Dunno. There certainly isn't the same 'status' now as then. Fifteen years ago, having your own dot-com address was a big deal. Now you can do it for a few bucks, and almost all the names are taken. Thanks for the link, btw, mystery-person!

    ReplyDelete