Tuesday, May 20, 2008

seeing the whole of the web

in august 1994, i moved from los angeles to college park, maryland, to pursue a PhD in american studies at the university of maryland. having neither classes nor friends, i'd take my bike out to learn the local landscape. often i'd end the day at the campus computer lab, where i'd snag an empty computer and use a program called pine to access my email.

one evening, i arrived at the lab with a super-sized coffee and a goal. earlier that day, my new housemate, a graduate student in computer science, told me about a new thing called the world wide web. "it's cool," he said, "you should really check it out." my goal that evening was to see and explore this world wide web thingy.

before firefox there was IE, before that there was netscape, and before that there was mosaic, whose icon i double-clicked and there i was on the world wide web. my first web site ever was the computer lab's homepage which contained, in school colors, the lab's hours, rules, and acceptable behaviors. promptly and intuitively, i mouse-clicked a blue hyperlink and proceeded to click and read, click and read, for hours, uninterrupted except to relieve myself of the super-sized coffee.

sometime around two or three in the morning, i clicked a link that magically brought me back to where i had begun - the homepage for maryland's computer labs. i had travelled a full circle. exhausted and exhilarated, i had seen, i thought, the whole of the web.


debbie malone said...

And here we are, 14 short years later . . . and here and here and . . .

Who would have thought so much could change!! Amazing, isn't it?!?!

david silver said...

what a short, strange trip it's been.

Alan said...

Ah, those were the days, eh? :D

And here's a hello from a long time reader - that crazy RA who begged you to sit down with a bunch of college freshmen, some buffalo wings, and a copy of the Ghost in The Shell movie and chat about cyberculture. :D

Hope you're doing well!

david silver said...


i totally remember you and that evening (but instead of "some buffalo wings" i seem to recall a barrel of buffalo wings ...). barrel or no barrel, that was the first time i saw ghost in the shell, so thanks.

what fun it is to reconnect a decade plus later - when you get a moment please email me and let me know what you're up to these days.

skabob said...

Mosaic was a WWW and Gopher client. :) You can still get it from UIUC: ftp://ftp.ncsa.uiuc.edu/Mosaic/

Someone ran a test with it recently and found under 5% of the current WWW viewable. Too bad in a way, but not really.

kq said...

i think you know what i am thinking when i read this post. i don't need to type it do i?