Tuesday, November 27, 2012

2000 Onion article is oddly prescient

The Onion posted a piece back in 2000 which made fun of the idea that we might someday use the internet for everything--apparently, this idea was ludicrous in 2000.  I guess I do remember my WebTV being so incredibly slow that I often wouldn't notice for several minutes that someone had picked up the phone and I was no longer connected because seriously, fuck dialup.  Ah, childhood.

Jesus fuck, WebTV.  I just want to look up my damn Pokemon walkthroughs why is this so hard fuuuuuuuck.

 Here's the Onion headline I mentioned:

Comedy in 2000 becomes a boring factual article in 2012.  Progress!

Ha-ha, checking a newspaper website for movie times?  How quaint.  We all have apps to do that now. 
The article continues:

Larry has used the Internet to assist friends, as well. "Last week, we had a houseguest who was wondering if there were any Jesuit colleges in Ohio," Wisniewski said. "All I had to do was open up my AOL software, enter my password, point the browser to www.yahoo.com, and click on Society & Culture, followed by Religion & Spirituality. From there, I had only to click Faiths & Practices, then Christianity, then Denominations & Sects, and then Catholic. Then I simply clicked on Orders, Jesuits, Colleges & Universities, Ohio, and boom, right there in front of me are Xavier University in Cincinnati and John Carroll University in Cleveland."

Aside from the ladders of links that Area Man has to navigate to find information, this is basically how a lot of people look things up now.  Google was in existence in 2000, but hadn't totally taken off yet, so people were still going through page after page of Yahoo! links and using AOL keywords to find things. 

No, Grandma, that's not where that goes, and you should really pick a new password.
Wisniewski's friends, for their part, are impressed by his technological savvy and access to limitless global databases. "I feel like such a caveman for looking up phone numbers in a phone book," neighbor Steve Lindblad said. "All those pages and that ink–it's so embarrassing."

It's funny because that really would be kind of embarrassing now.  I don't think I even have a phone book.  The last phone book I remember having was the one we set on fire in a dorm basement (NOTE: depending on who's asking, I did not set a phone book on fire in a college dorm.  I was studying that night).

For all of Wisniewski's success in surfing for online info, he said Pamela is "still getting the hang" of the Internet and its power. "Pam is always asking stuff like, 'Why don't we just look the word up in our old-fashioned dictionary?'" Wisniewski said. "The answer, of course, is simple: because we don't have to."

I can only assume that this article was funny when it was written because there was a time when early adopters were a little over-excited about the internet.  It used to be super slow, and there was a time when retrieving a dictionary was faster than waiting for this:

And this:

The use of an old-timey wooden sailing ship tiller in the loading screen turned out to be quite appropriate.
Just to look up one word, that might be excessive.  Actually, looking at all this old internet stuff, it's pretty amazing just how quickly this Onion article became factually accurate.  Thanks for being ahead of the curve, Area Man!

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