Time flies, so does technology. From the era of Netscape until Chrome, from mIRC until WhatsApp, internet does drastically evolve. Ten years ago we can still find many choices for the same service provided on Internet. However, it’s undeniable that most of Internet service we find now are provided and owned by these two companies: Google and Facebook.
It’s actually unbelievable how Google and Facebook domination has changed the way we use internet. They become such huge empires that control everything you do on Internet. When I was thirteen I searched on Yahoo!, Lycos, MSN, Altavista; had my e-mail on Yahoo! Mail and Plasa; had my blog on Geocities; had Internet Explorer as web browser, had mIRC or Yahoo! Messenger to chat; I had different choices for different purpose. But now? You have Android in a grab of your hand and all you do is basically through Google. Search on Google, e-mail on Gmail, blog on Blogspot (well I use WordPress anyway), browse on Chrome, chat on Hangout, all the possible way you can do on Internet has already served by Google. You may have several social media accounts, but the main one is mostly Facebook. You mentioned WhatsApp and Instagram? Well those two are also owned by Facebook.
Now let’s just go back and recall that time in early 2000’s, where Internet was still pretty much free market without dominant players. Well, this post title might only applies for you who were born around 1990s (since I don’t know whether you’re teenageers at the time these following websites became huge trend), but anyway let’s have a break and get on the time machine for a while!
This website is legend. When you hear about Friendster, somehow you recall that tragic story of first-mover market leader that ended up drowning in the bottom of internet swamp. Pathetic. Try to open your old Friendster profile page now and here is what you’ll get:
Nevertheless, this website was once a huge phenomenon. Around 2002 – 2007, when the term ‘social media’ hasn’t even been coined, Friendster managed to be one of the biggest influential social networking site (aside of MySpace) before Facebook domination. I remember when friends are giving “testimonial” to each other on their Friendster’s profile (the more you get the more popular you are), changing profile layout with colorful-dazzling background, and of course, see who’s stalking you.
One of Friendster’s distinct feature (compared to Facebook) is “Who’s Viewed My Profile”, that allowed you to see those ‘stalkers’–then maybe send back message to them. When Facebook emerged, many people regretted that it doesn’t have this feature, but I think that’s why Facebook doesn’t use it: to allow people stalking even more frequently without any hesitation >> the profile owner won’t caught you anyway 😛
Now Friendster has completely shut down its social networking sevice, and change to be social gaming platform instead. However it’s still quite succesful. And here’s a picture just to bring back the old time to you.
2. YAHOO! MAIL
When being asked about your first e-mail address, almost likely you will answer Yahoo! as the domain. Well some people had Hotmail as their first mail, but Yahoo! was just the most popular one back then. My very first ID was made at the first year of junior high school, email@example.com, such a silly username with silly meaning^^”. Then I had new one with more “reasonable” combination–but still childish anyway, firstname.lastname@example.org that still even exist until now (never check it though).
At that time, when Internet was still expensive privilege, only few people can afford to access internet at home (even they rarely use it since the rate was so damn high). These kind of friends were usually more “technological-savvy” and even had their first e-mail since elementary school. Other average people like me can only access Internet from “warnet” (warung internet a.k.a. internet shop), where you pay hourly rate to rent a computer with Internet access–sometimes a very slowwwwwwwww one.
Okay back to Yahoo! Mail. At that time, due to Internet scarcity (and sluggishness), for me when this ‘scenery’ finally appeared on my screen I felt soooooo happy and relieved:
Well what did this e-mail do for junior high school kids? Think now I just wanna laugh recalling those stupid, silly, random things we did with e-mail 😛 Most of us used it for flirting of course (at that time Friendster was not yet happening), approaching your crush(es) while you have no courage to do so in real life. Sometimes it can also lead to more absurd things–like threatening your rival. I remember the one called herself Stephanie Wilcox that kept terroring me by e-mail, telling me to stay away from X (a guy in my class). I had no idea what she talked about since I hate this guy so much that I don’t understand why she should be jealous to me. Few years later I revealed that this guy was actually the one who spammed my inbox with romantic (weird) poems. Until now I still can’t reveal who is the real Stephanie Wilcox (though I had one strong suspect), but anyway now that I think about it again, it’s just such a silly teenagers drama 😛
3. YAHOO!, LYCOS, MSN, ALTAVISTA
…and other search engines before Google domination. I remember everytime I searched for school assignment on Internet, one search engine never enough. Yahoo! would be the first I opened, but then if I couldn’t find what I want, then I’ll open Lycos, MSN, and Altavista simultaneously. Now? You simply just “googling” and it’s enough. Other search engines are dead. I couldn’t really recall how we could suddenly switch to Google–it was like a fast dream–when I wake up I already have that colorful Google logo on my screen. I never use Yahoo! and blah blah again since then. I wonder how Sergey Brin had hypnotised us…
However I think some of Google services like Google Adsense, Google Adwords, etc contributed to its raising popularity. Not so long after that, the term “Search Engine Optimization” started to gain attention. Initially most of SEO service providers had different package for Google SEO and Yahoo! SEO, but now I think SEO will automatically means “how to make your website easily googled”.
This is just another e-mail provider, but local one (Indonesia only). I think now they completely delete their e-mail service, since I can’t access my inbox anymore. At that time many of us had two e-mail accounts (on Yahoo! and Plasa). My ID was email@example.com (another ‘absurd’ name). Again, e-mail was only something for fun. It was way of sharing information like funny pictures, e-cards, humorous post, etc with school friends. Sometimes it was also the way of telling someone about something that you can’t tell in real life.
Many of my friends who’d later be a couple (or almost couple) were also doing their initial flirting through e-mail (aside of home telephone). In later school reunion, some friends confessed that they actually had intense e-mail conversations with certain guy/girl, that either we never expected before, or we did have a clue that there’s something between them. Oh well it’s just so funny to recall those teenagers flirting moments 🙂
Nah here’s a screenshot from Plasa inbox just to bring back your memories.
It wasn’t really a website, but chat room desktop application that was once widely popular. Most of ‘internet shop’ provided the shortcut on Desktop so you can easily connect with those random people in chat room. The appearance was not even actually user-friendly, but I don’t know why at that time it was very popular. If you’re tired of crowded conversations in the main chat room then you can just pick one random ID on the right side to chat privately. The conversation usually began with:
“Hi, asl pls” (asl = age sex location)
And my typical answer would be “15 f mlg” (I marked up my age…)
As far as I remember, mIRC let you log in with different ID (unlike Yahoo! Messenger) so you will not be able to chat with the same person again the next time you login, unless he/she maintain the same ID. Many people exhanged e-mail address so they can keep contact. It was really random people you met, a bit freaky and nasty sometimes, so we mostly used it only out of curiosity and stopped using it after a while.
I loved this website! They provide huge variety of electronic cards that you can customize and send to your friends in many special occasions. Even until now this website still exists. At that time sending e-cards became a trend among my friends (even without any special occasion, sometimes just for prank). We used to use Yahoo! Greetings but then found that 123Greetings were a lot more attractive with animated figures and everything.
This website was one of the first blog provider. One of my genius friend introduced me to this website, and it was the very first time I started blogging (eventhough I just revealed few years later that those activities called “blogging”). The template was very simple, it wasn’t variety of choices we easily find in today’s Blogspot and WordPress. You can’t even create your own blog URL link because it has to be the same with your Yahoo! Mail user ID. That was one of reason to change my Yahoo! Mail address to be firstname.lastname@example.org, so I can create new Geocities blog with this URL: www.geocities.com/hogpiece_roxbeat.
Another way of customising your Geocities blog was by using Microsoft Frontpage, windows application to create website. I enjoyed using Frontpage out of curiosity, and can still even picture my very first blog design that has image drawn manually by Paint application 😛 However somehow I didn’t find a way to completely import blog template from Frontpage to Geocities–or maybe another thing, I forgot. I soon got bored and leave it. Now this is what I get when trying to access my Geocities blog:
Well I think that’s all I can recall from our teenagers era 🙂 Feel free to add and comment if you have anything in mind! 😉