Does anyone here remember 1998? Right now, this is mostly a rhetorical question, but there are some here who probably do not remember that year too distinctly. More specifically, does anyone here remember 1998, as it was on the internet? (And at this point, several bearded road apples are getting ready to message me telling me how they were on the internet in 1982). For most of us, the answer is "no", even if we really think it is "yes".
Although most people's filtered memories of those wild, wooly early internet days of the late 1990s (note to aforementioned bearded road apples: yes, I know that the internet was actually in use almost 30 years before this point) are probably accurate in some respects, we do need a refresher course. The memories are probably in two groups: that it was endlessly fascinating to click on things, and the endless alure of "just one more click", could indeed keep us looking at nothing for literally six hours or more. Click. Click. Click. And this was before we could really listen to music, watch videos, or submit our own content to an internet site (note to bearded road apples: whatever you are thinking, I still don't care). Also, we might remember that mostly everything on the internet was really, really stupid in those days. While internet stupidity will probably not go away for a while, things back then were pretty crude, simple and there wasn't a lot of content that wasn't repeated endlessly. Do you think that Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan was the best movie in the series? Well, just keep on clicking along this webring and find out how many other people feel the same way.
And if you want a refresher in both those good and bad qualities of the internet all those years ago, there is a website called Omegle.com . Now, this website is totally dedicated to chat, so not in all points can it capture this dual facet of early internet, but the experience of chatting pretty much sums it up. Omegle.com is a site where someone can log on and talk to a totally anonymous stranger, picked at random. I have to admit that I actually missed the first flush of chat room popularity, so I don't know what it was like the first time around, but I imagine it was something like Omegle. As could be believed from a site where there is total anonymity, and therefore no accountability, the conversation on Omegle does not tend to be very structured or deep. For the first time in many years, ASL is actually being used as an opener to a conversation. People's grammar and spelling is atrocious. The site seems to be full of young males, and the women I did meet, briefly, were probably actually young males. There is a big spam problem. And yet, for all of that, just like in 1998 when I was surfing the internet, I felt compelled to keep clicking. Everytime my chat partner (described only as stranger) disconnected (or I disconnected from them), I was compelled to keep on clicking on the button to "start new conversation".
Omegle might actually be turned into a great, workable idea, if it instituted some sort of filtering for chat partners (based on aforementioned ASL, for example), and perhaps some type of reputation system. However, even without those things, it is an interesting and addictive tool for experience the raw side of the internet.