The Back Button
13

The Rise And Fall Of The Obscure Music Download Blog: A Roundtable

A series about internet history.

One internet music "sharing" trend largely unnoticed by the powers that sue was the niche explosion of obscure music download blogs, lasting roughly from 2004-2008. Using free filesharing services like Rapidshare and Mediafire, and setting up sites on Blogspot and similar providers, these internet hubs stayed hidden in the open by catering to more discerning kleptomaniac audiophiles. Their specialty: parceling out ripped recordings—many of them copyrighted—from the more collectible and unknown corners of music's oddball, anomalous past.

While the RIAA was suing dead people for downloading Michael Jackson songs (and Madonna was using Soulseek to curse at teenagers), obscure music blogs [...]

5

Know Your Internet History! A Chat With Rex Booth Of Rex's World

Is there any word that screams “early internet” the way “webcam” does? It was the hey-you-never know, get-famous scheme of many a late 90s ex-celebrity, porn star and plain agoraphobic. All you needed was a webcam plugged into your computer, a dial-up 56k modem and some code, and you could broadcast a new still image every 60 seconds to your viewers. Then just sit back and let the fame roll in as millions (why not?) of people tuned in to watch you eat cereal in your bathrobe at 3 a.m. The possibilities were limitless.

This was long before the goal of the internet was to create a meme that [...]

9

A Suitably Bizarre Interview With The Early Web Provocateurs At Jodi.Org

Like those “computer hacker” characters from 90s movies who’d wear trenchcoats with old circuit boards sewn into them, web artists who wear their HTML on their sleeves can seem like cyberpunk relics. One goal of “Net Art” is to manipulate and expose the hidden code that flows beneath the internet, empowering users by making them aware they are only using the controlled "surface.” That was the common goal back in the 90s, when Net Art began, and it remains the goal now. But has this philosophy lost its relevance? Has the the trend of exposing the internet’s hidden code become outmoded—in the vein of those  late-90s iMacs with [...]

8

Know Your Internet History! A Chat With Cockeyed's Rob Cockerham

The pre-2000 World Wide Web was like the Wild, Wild West. There were no blog or social media templates providing touch-screen-ease for kids with smart phones and 4,999 friends. As the early American settlers built their cabins with logs and mud, so early website builders crafted their websites out of raw HTML. Flash, frames and Java were the blood, sweat and tears of these pioneers, who established outposts like the first-ever website and the first true internet meme before bravely going on to fight the first troll wars. Who were these early heroes of the internet? Who ventured into the "Internet Help" section of bookstores [...]

14

Know Your Internet History! A Chat With Jennifer Sharpe, Early Web Aggregator

The unexamined internet is not worth linking. As the early internet was new and exciting, so many early websites tended to be about the most new and exciting thing at the time: that is, the internet. Or more specifically, about pointing the way to other things on the internet that weren't typical, boring or commercial (unless extremely or ineptly so). By nature, websites are aggregates of other pieces of the web, and early websites that curated links to other things—done well—rose to the top, naturally selecting themselves as a classic web style (a style that was a forerunner of blogs, a harbinger of social media). So, who were these early [...]