If you showed anyone under the age of 18 a 1990’s website interface, it would probably be as unfamiliar as an original Gameboy, typewriter, or record player.
Despite the fact that Millennials have grown up with the World Wide Web, the early Web is just as much of an artifact as any other piece of old technology. Especially to those born in the mid-late 90’s and it most certainly wouldn’t be recognizable to anyone born after the turn of the century.
The Atlantic recently wrote an article on How Coolness Defined the World Wide Web of the 1990’s. They gave a brief overview of when “cool” started and what makes something cool in American culture. The early Web only further pushed the concept of cool:
“Maybe today’s users find the early web’s preoccupation with cool to seem little more than the juvenile boasting of Internet novices. But a closer look at sites like Cool Site of the Day, and the countless other cool directories like Netscape’s “What’s Cool?” and Yahoo!’s Cool Sites listing, might actually tell us something about how and why networked technology and digital culture forged such an enduring link to the concept of cool.”
Although the “cool” 1990’s World Wide Web seems ancient and futile when compared to the 2014 Web, which consists of social media, mobile-responsive websites, photo-shopped pictures, videos and more than previously imagined, the purposeless content still remains! It now comes in the form of Buzz Feed quizzes, celebrity and athlete watching, and worthless smartphone apps.
The difference? As The Atlantic points out:
“…work produced by amateurs was featured alongside that of IT professionals, and the most trivial content sat side-by-side with useful productivity tools.”
Today’s Web has more content that can be easily accessed, the importance of that content is more easily discerned, and most importantly, we can discover what’s popular and newsworthy without having to wander through hundreds of hypertext links.
The Web is always changing. And it’s changing at a rapid pace. What it will look like 10, 15, 20 years from now we can only imagine.
If you remember, what was your favorite 90’s website? Give us your thoughts here!