I do remember the dial-up era, when opening links was very similar to the game Mine Sweeper. Most of the times you’d click on something that seemed legit and be okay, but eventually… BAM! ASIAN PORN! No topic was safe. A history report on segregation? Interracial porn. Looking for something special to buy your grandma? Old people porn. Thinking of buying a textbook online? Nope. All we got is porn. What’s the best kind of corn? You get the idea. To add insult to injury, it would take forever to load. People aren’t fond of being decieved. To be fair, I didn’t fall for every disguised link. Some of the the link names obviously implied something sexual, like “Join MySpace!” This scenario didn’t bode well for those that weren’t particularly tech savvy with the mine sweeper-like web of the 90s. You know, the ones that had their login password as DaffyBugsSylvesterTaz because it required at least 4 characters. On a side note, this was also the time period where you could find the lamest jokes trying to be innovative by incorporating the web into the punch line. Why did the chicken cross the Internet road? To get to the other site. Debatably as offensive as porn. So this wasn’t working, and so then came the transition to the opposite side of the admission spectrum.

All my memories about the “Access Denied” phase involved me at school trying to research something. Everything was blocked. Computers had no capability of interpretation, so topics like war, abortion, anatomy, women’s protests, or Western art was off limits. Anything that could be remotely tied to violence or sex was blocked. I would dare anyone in this period to go to a middle school and try to do a research report on Bill Clinton. Pretty lame.

Coming off the heels of the Dot Com Bubble burst, we got to the “Okay, okay, we can’t just block everything. My bad.” phase of the internet. This is where we realize that there are too many layers of the internet to categorize all of them. It’s like a digital 7-layer burrito. It’s mostly disgusting, yes, and the deeper you get the less you want to know, but few things are faster to satisfy hunger. Most of the bad stuff gets blocked, but even though some stuff can seep through the filters, it’s better than blanket restrictions, right?

We make the move to the “Access Controlled” period. I didn’t really notice a huge change other than sites started looking a lot sleeker and I could access more information because the internet was seemingly doubling in size every year (mostly because of porn). We’ve come a long way from the “open internet,” and we have made a graceless transition to the era know as “Access Contested.” There’s still lots of porn out there, but now the ones that find it are usually those looking for it. Given that the other two “phases” are only five years long we should be moving onto something else pretty soon, eh? This upcoming era will probably be defined by regulation, but given the degree of user innovation, it doesn’t have to be. Because of how significant the web is becoming in our lives, there is always a legitimate fear of dependancy on the internet. What if something like the Y2K were to happen for real? If you thought it was a big deal in 1999, imagine it happening in 2019. It could happen, kiddos.


But for now, everything is running mostly swimmingly now that most of the digital kinks are gone, as we are beginning to find a cyberspace chi through a mix of government, private sector, and user regulation. The internet has a little something for everyone nowadays- and I mean EVERYONE. There have been some ridiculous digital wars, but there are so many wonderful opportunities for our generation because of the web, that I can’t help but be really excited to be entering the new internet phase that hopefully doesn’t involve humanity’s enslavement.

Anyone else want to share their personal journey through the 4 phases of the internet? If so, I’d love to hear it.

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One Response to Wi-Fight?

  1. I also remember the days of innocently trying to Google search sources for high school projects. My Power Points on vegetarianism lacked pictures of adorable baby chickens since the word “chicks” was always instantly shot down by my school’s computers. The principal and other staff knew the power of the Internet, but their strict regulation caused a lot of problems as well. Your post made me wonder, is it really worth blocking so much on the Internet if, no matter what, something will get through? Either that, or someone will find a way around the blocks.

    I rarely think about the subtle changes to Internet regulation that I have experienced. When I think of all the ones that stand out to me, they are all regulations on local basis. That is, it’s the school, youth organization, or parent that’s closely monitoring the content. I think this is due to their person experiences with some of the content floating around out there. And, it has been primarily to protect young eyes from porn. Like you said, back in the day it could just pop up on you when you least expected it. I have no doubt that as content on the Internet increases, so will regulation in all its forms over it.

    Finally, yours was an excellent post about your personal history with the phases of the Internet. I wish I had a better memory of what the Internet was like when I first logged on years and years ago.

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