A theory of "ages" of Internet history
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#1
Hello,

First off, I am very glad about the existence of this subforum. Internet sociology is something that has always fascinated me, and I am pleased that a medium to discuss it properly now exists.

One of the main ideas in my own previous thinking and writing about Internet sociology is the idea of there being set "ages" of Internet history. This may simply be due to my autistic brain wanting to classify and organize everything, or perhaps due to too much subconscious influence from reading Evola as a teenager, but I really do believe that the eras that I have outlined have distinct "vibes" that I have always intuited from their products. A short summary of my "ages" scheme is as follows, influenced by Hesiod & Evola's scheme of metallic ages.

1. The Primordial Age: 1980s through ~1994-5

The earliest stages of the Internet. Almost exclusively used by researchers, university students, eccentric hobbyists, and other assorted nerds. Usenet & P2P services are the norm, as are personal websites. An early colonization of parts of the Internet by a nascent furry community (before then only connecting via sparse newsletters and magazines) will eventually lead to an outsized influence by them due to a founder's effect.

A great little slice of this era and its culture is the website ram.org, which is the personal website of a New York computational biology professor by the name of Ram Samudrala. Very simplistic, basic, bare-bones design, and clearly the product of a culture of solely intra-academic nerds.

2. The Golden Age: ~1995 through 2006

The core of what we consider "Old Internet." YTMND, Ebaum's World, Newgrounds, embryonic 4chan, Gaia Online, Angelfire, Geocities. Personal websites still common, social media & Web 2.0 have yet to take off, with their seeds only being planted towards the very end of this era. The first viral videos and memes (then called "fads") take off here and occasionally leak into the normosphere AKA meatspace. Many of the first great trolling campaigns (i.e. Habbo Hotel raids, various Encyclopedia Dramatica antics) are had. Internet still mostly restricted to mid- or high-IQ white men due to the technical limitations and difficulties of personal computers at the time.

3. The Silver Age: 2007 through 2011, perhaps into early 2012

The first time that "normies" truly start getting online, thanks to various advances in technology, such as easier-to-use software, better Internet speeds, more wi-fi, the advancement and normalization of social media (Twitter, Facebook, etc.) and of course the first smartphones. This is when the average Internet user stops being a Gen Xer and starts being a Millennial. Various fandoms congregate online, but they are of a far more normie variety than those that did in the previous ages (i.e. scenes, goths, emos, & LARPers instead of furries & other bizarre fetishists and extreme weirdos). This is when funny Internet things stop being called "fads" and start being called "memes." Viral videos go from a sporadic novelty to a cultural institution with the advent and increased popularity of YouTube. While Web 2.0 social media websites have brought in more normies, they are still very free and unregulated compared to how they are today, due to having been too young and poorly-understood at the time to have drawn the ire of hysterical journalists and government regulators as a threat to liberal cultural hegemony. This is the era of your classic "epic memes xD" and is the first time you get children embarrassing themselves and others by brainlessly parroting Internet lingo (rage comics, "like a boss," "epic win/fail," "derp," troll face, etc.). Overall the Internet is seen as a crazy and fun place by the public at large, home to LOLcats, rickrolling, innocent trolling of silly emos, Reddit atheists escaping crazy Bush-era "fundies," and funny comics on Facebook.

This era was hated at the time by Golden Agers, but over time has become idealized by later newfags as a "golden era." Compare this older 4chan graphic:

[Image: https://i.redd.it/ify709jkcm7y.jpg]

To these far more recent video essay by Armenoid pseudointellectual Glink (before he fried his brain on psychedelics):

[Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OU6CuSMzNus]

4. The Bronze Age: 2012 through 2016-17

The edgy, insecure teenage years of the Internet. The first thing to observe here is that the Internet absolutely exploded in popularity in 2012. This is something that I have always intuitively felt - from about 2014 onwards, I always felt that something posted or uploaded in 2011 or before was "old," and something posted or uploaded in 2012 or later was "new." This is borne out by the facts.

[Image: https://saasscout.com/wp-content/uploads...bsites.png]

We can see that the total number of websites on the Internet doubled between 2011 and 2012, a massive shift. This was also the year of the 2012 Obama vs Romney presidential election, which was the first election in which the Internet was a significant factor, with tweets and memes gaining real importance in the news cycle. This was foreshadowed in the preceding year by Occupy Wall Street and the Arab Spring, two political movements which both relied heavily on the Internet to spread their message and organize.

With this influx of new users, we saw two trends emerge and converge. First, we saw a truly massive influx of normies onto the Internet. It was no longer just nerds and computer scientists, as in the Primordial and Golden Ages, or even "hip" or "weird" normies like in the Silver Age - now everyone was online. This massive influx of people created a mixture primed for conflict, which emerged through the rise of a new, edgy, ironic, and sarcastic online culture. Long gone was the sincere and innocent goofiness of the previous ages - now that was "cringe." I think this was due in large part to a mutual reaction of sorts between the original Internet nerds from the previous ages and the normie newcomers. Nerds were mocked for being "cringe" or "weird" by normies, and normies were mocked for being out-of-touch and stupid by the smarter and more self-aware of the nerds. There is also something to be said for the long-documented phenomenon of people speaking and acting more harshly and meanly online, due to anonymity and/or lack of face-to-face interaction.

The memes of this era were much more self-aware and ironic than in previous ages, e.g. Shrekposting/"Brogres," doge, ayy lmao, & MLG edits; mischievous & mean Smug Pepe overtakes sincere & heartfelt Sad Pepe. This is the golden age of edge, and YouTubers such as Filthy Frank, iDubbbz, LeafyIsHere, Keemstar, Sam Hyde, and to an extent h3h3, all secure lucrative careers for a time by pushing the limits of acceptable entertainment. Edgy jokes about stereotypes, sex, and gross-out/shock humor are the norm. This culture of pushing the limits and rebelling against authority also extends to the now-politicized nature of the Internet, with the emergence of the alt-right and Gamergate both prefiguring the following age of further politicization. Donald Trump enjoys popularity among the "memers" of this age with his brash, trash-talking, "get rekt libtard" style.

5. The Iron Age: 2017-present???

After the election of Donald Trump in 2016, the American political class lost their shit, and clamped down hard on the emergent threat of online freedom of speech. Web 2.0 social media companies were bullied into implementing further and further censorship with hysterical articles about "hate speech," advertiser boycotts, and threats of legislation from Washington bureaucrats and congressmen. You had insane shit like George Soros saying that "Facebook got Donald Trump elected" and the entire libtard class living in a parallel universe in which Mark Zuckerberg and Jack Dorsey are Hitler's top guys for not banning everyone to the right of Hillary Clinton. This, combined with the general Trump-era media hysteria, led to much more politicization of the Internet and a steep decline in the edgy devil-may-care attitude and impish humor of the previous age. First content creators were bullied into submission with demonetization, bannings, and the "Adpocalypse," then afterwards they were moralized at and threatened with "cancellation" by the SJWs, once a laughing stock in the Bronze Age but now fully deputized by the powers that be. This is an age that has a facade of irony, but is in truth profoundly self-serious at its core. With the universality of smartphones and social media the Internet has now become completely normified and is now almost indistinguishable from "IRL" - everyone is online now, and as such memes and other trends come and go in the blink of an eye to satisfy an ever more impatient mass audience. Highly-regulated social media is the norm, and relics of older eras such as 4chan, Kiwi Farms, and other forums and sites remain only as relics of an older age of the Internet, slowly fading or extinguishing with the passing of time, like stars going out in the night sky.



Let me know what you think of this scheme of dividing Internet history. While it may come across as a bit LARPy, I do genuinely believe that each era I have listed has its own very distinct and noticeable "vibe" and feel to it.

(edited to fix spacing; please preview your posts before sending them out - Chud)
#2
Welcome to the forum, and thank you for being brave enough to make a thread. I'll comment on the subject matter later. Wanted to get this out now.
#3
(10-05-2022, 11:24 PM)anthony Wrote: Welcome to the forum, and thank you for being brave enough to make a thread. I'll comment on the subject matter later. Wanted to get this out now.

Thank you for the kind welcome! This site seems like a great place; I greatly miss the age of forums, and hope that this place lasts a long time.
#4
Thank you for this.
#5
Covid + TikTok + Tumblr exodus may mark the emergence of a mini epoch within our current one. COVID contributed largely to the trend post-trump you mentioned towards regulation of free speech on the web; remember this was when we first started seeing memes and posts fact checked by experts (lmao). Tumblr exodus allowed ideas that were widely mocked on the internet previously (gender theory, radfem, other pillars of the GNC) to spread to normalfags and now in many places these things considered normal, its even leaked into real life. Tiktok is mostly relevant for being the app of choice for the newly grown zoomers, who have largely wrested e-cultural hegemony from the millenials, but its also relevant for being a significant vector for the spread of AIDS pozzification. Sorry for shitty post quality I'm writing this before bed.
#6
If I had to give any opinions on this, it would be that 2014 really marked a split in the whole Leafy era of the internet. Obviously, there was Gamergayte which changed the internet landscape forever, leading to the first real censorship pushes on the internet and there was the Fappening, which really started the whole downwards spiral of Google into what it is today. It also felt like a lot of newfags were joining 4chan et al. at this time, and a lot of oldfags were leaving. Very sad year, the last one I seriously enjoyed until 2021.

(10-10-2022, 08:38 AM)Guest Wrote: and there was the Fappening

I have almost entirely forgotten it existed, even if I was there when it happened, which feels uncanny now. I remember it being discussed extensively for a few months and then memoryholed forever.
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#7
FINALLY someone who has recognised that SOMETHING happened in 2011/2012 that changed everything. I had heard about it before, I don't know where, maybe it was even from you although I did not know. You can check the statistics however and see that around that time, half of the U.S. had attained access to a smartphone by then, by what reason I do not know.

[Image: https://www.comscore.com/var/comscore/st...magev1.jpg]
[Image: https://www.comscore.com/var/comscore/st...magev1.jpg]
#8
Don't forget also the Unite the Right Rally in charlottesville disaster in august 2017 that lead to a new wave of censorship and doxxing againt anyone in the right 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unite_the_..._responses
#9
I think Musk's acquisition of Twitter, we are entering a 'new era', since it's obvious that the establishment is going to try and destroy Twitter by getting as many leftist types off of it, removing much of the "politics is downstream from Twitter" narrative.

However, in doing so, they have opened a door to something rather interesting. These anti-Musk persons are promoting a system known as "Mastodon".
Now the thing about Mastodon is that it is a "federated social network", which means that the social network is made up of user run servers that all connect and can interact with each other.
The great thing about this is that you can be blocked by certain instances, but you're still going to be able to interact with all the other instances who still like you.
At the most ideal level, you'll have your own instance only for yourself, ensuring that it's impossible for your account and posts deleted unless something extraordinary occurs like your web server being hacked.
Note that there are services for a lot of this other stuff, like video sharing.

I find this fantastic. Musk's takeover could potentially lead to the popularisation of federated internet applications. Now, once they has occurred, we can never be banned again.
Yes we'll be blocked by the left-normie instances, but from most I'd say they'll be apathetic.
And even if we are blocked by everyone, we will still stay afloat ourselves on our own websites.

I think it goes without saying that this is preferable to even Musk owning Twitter. No matter how 'based' he is, he can't be trusted completely. Only we can trust ourselves. Federated applications fix that by simultaneously letting the user rule while being able to interact with everyone. Gone will be the days where you will be banished to Telegram, Gab, Bitchute, etc. to your shrinking network of core friends/followers.

Now this is all hypotheticals, and I know that many may roll their eyes at this techno-optomism, what if we the reputation of the likes of cryptocurrencies, but it's still nice to think about it.

Even if this shift doesn't occur, SOMETHING will happen to Twitter (or has already happened). The largest idea-sharing site on the planet is now owned by a relatively 'rouge' individual. This is definitely a dawning of a new era.

What do you all say?
#10
“Leftists will do a GOOD thing”

No they won’t. They are pretty stupid but they are smart enough to differentiate good and bad and to always choose bad. That’s the definition of a leftist btw. I was writing a thread about it.

Mastodon might be cool but leftists won’t make it. Also decentralized apps have a lot of technical challenges. Not trivial to make decentralized twitter. Torrenting is still super slow and glitchy, Bitcoin is great but super slow, IRC is a pain to use, the Internet and email are the only big successes and they still have a ton of problems that require solutions from billion dollar companies to function.
#11
(11-14-2022, 07:21 AM)BillyONare Wrote: “Leftists will do a GOOD thing”

No they won’t. They are pretty stupid but they are smart enough to differentiate good and bad and to always choose bad. That’s the definition of a leftist btw. I was writing a thread about it.

Mastodon might be cool but leftists won’t make it. Also decentralized apps have a lot of technical challenges. Not trivial to make decentralized twitter. Torrenting is still super slow and glitchy, Bitcoin is great but super slow, IRC is a pain to use, the Internet and email are the only big successes and they still have a ton of problems that require solutions from billion dollar companies to function.

My point still stands that Musk's acquisition of Twitter is a dawning of a new era for the Internet.
#12
RE The Fediverse: I first checked it out back in like the late Gamergate era. That was the first big push for federalizing I saw on the internet. Lots of exciting new technologies and communities, but ultimately they went nowhere. There's been multiple waves of migration to the Fediverse but few of them can retain a large community for very long. I'm sure we're all familiar with why this is.

Mastodon is almost an entirely different, parallel phenomenon. The dev has been (rightfully) catching hell for almost a decade now due to his blatant disregard for ignoring the common protocol which breaks certain features for every other software, and then eventually explicitly excluding communities he didn't like. Mastodon has become its own 'verse, just not the Fediverse.

I don't foresee the journalists lasting long on Mastodon for obvious reasons, and the idea of them respecting the principle of federation is laughable. They'll crawl back to Twitter or go to some other Big Tech playpen like Facebook. I'm interested to know what Jack Dorsey's super-secret-pie-in-the-sky protocol thing is, but I doubt it will change anything. Web 3.0, if it ever materializes, will be something that works quietly on the backend. For example, I could see websites quietly adopting IPFS to serve files but only if the internet browsers all seamlessly add IPFS node integration. Most people would not realize it's even there. But "X... on the blockchain!" shit will never be adopted by normgroids.


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