The Internet is complex, expansive and confusing. Sure, it has provided all of us here at IU with steady-paying jobs, but it also frustrates us to maddening ends. So, as sort of a cathartic exercise, our psychoanalysts suggested that we take out our aggressions on this mass of technology by belittling it in some way. "Break down the Internet into more manageable components," they proposed.
By the end of our session, our team of analysts came up with a treatment: they suggested that we develop a story of top tens cataloguing things about the Internet that we find both irksome and enjoyable. Of course, we immediately demanded our money back. "Bunch of shrinks," we scoffed, top 10s have been done to death.
Then, late one night, while waiting for the most recent beta version of Netscape to download, our edgy IU staff gathered for a little R&R and watched a film favorite, This Is Spinal Tap. We just love that scene in which Nigel Tufnel (played by Christopher Guest), shows off his amplifier board. All of the dials, as Tufnel notes, go up to 11.
And then it just clicked. We could do the top 10 lists after all, but also make them new and original by having our lists go up to 11.
Well, dear reader, it worked. Our staff's collective nervousness has passed and our interest in the Internet has been revitalized. So here they are, our Top 11 Lists.
The 11 sites that
r e v o l u t i o n i z e d
*not in any particular order
You've probably never heard of Phrack. In a way, that's the point. Phrack, a truly underground publication, has succeeded despite its obscurity and narrow scope, offering tribute to the dedication of the hacking mind.
Top 11 Sounds of the Internet
If you just got your sound card and speakers, put them to the test with these 11 audio treats:
11. "I bent my wookiee" from the Ralph Wiggum Page at http://www2.umdnj.edu/~yospin/rwiggum.html
10. "Zoinks... it's the Demon Shark!" -- Shaggy from the Scottish Scooby Doo Page at http://www.rit.edu/~skm7386/scooby.html
9. "Conjunction Junction, what's your function?" -- from the TV Bytes TV Theme songs page http://themes.parkhere.com/themes/schrock.html
8. "I am Cornholio" -- Beavis from http://www.mtv.com/animation/beavbutt/beavaudio.html
7. "Dueling Banjoes" --from Deliverance at http://lincoln.midcoast.com/~harr/kim2.htm
6. "Inconceivable!" -- Vizzini from The Princess Bride at http://www-personal.engin.umich.edu/ ~cstrick/PrincessBride/sounds.html
5. "This one goes to eleven." -- Nigel Tufnel of the band Spinal Tap at http://mindlink.net/hoto_parker/wav.html
4. "The Clinton for President Campaign Theme Song" from the parody Clinton for President page at http://www.Clinton96.org
3. "I know crazy monkey technique" -- excerpt from the bizarre voice mail messages of Tsutomo Shimomura at the Takedown web site at http://www.takedown.com
2. "The Freshmaker" -- The Mentos tag line at http://www.panix.com/~ali
1. "Mr. Tambourine Man" as interpreted by William Shatner at the Capt. James T. Kirk Sing-a-long Page at http://www.ama.caltech.edu/ ~mrm/kirk.html
Most Subversive People on the 'Net
"They that can give up essential liberty
to obtain a little temporary
safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."
- Benjamin Franklin, 1759
Some of our favorite troublemakers:
11) Phil Zimmermann, http://www.umsl.edu/~muns/ blueribbon/61.htm, persecuted hero of cryptography and creator of Pretty Good Privacy software.
10) Kevin Mitnick, http://www.takedown.com", the superhacker that people just love to catch. His kung-fu is the best.
9) The volunteer folx at Paranoia, http://www.paranoia.com/, who fiercely defend free speech and privacy by publishing underground info.
8) The Sucksters, http://www.suck.com/, writers taking on the task of taking to task crass commercialism, bad taste and creeping mediocrity.
7) Julf Hensingius, mailto:email@example.com, philanthropic provider of the most popular anonymous remailing service.
6) Factsheet Five, http://www.well.com/conf/f5/f5index2.html, keeping the "parallel media" and alternative voices of 'zines thriving.
5) The Radical Sex Page, http://www.fifth mountain.com/limit.html, putting the most extreme sex, of every persuasion, out in the public eye.
4) AdBusters, http://18.104.22.168/adbusters/, serving up some culture jamming and questioning the role of advertising and consumerism in our lives.
3) Steve Case, http://www.aol.com responsible for luring millions of people into naughty chat rooms.
2) Curtis and Nanny Nehring Bliss, http://www.ice.net/~nehring/index.htm, "protecting endangered concepts and challenging memes of legality and decency."
1) Bruce Sterling, http://22.214.171.124/books/ crackdown/crack_toc.html, author of The Hacker Crackdown, freeware literature examining law and disorder on the electronic frontier.
Top 11 Ways to Get Rich off the Internet
11. Spam newsgroups and then write a book about it.
10. Ask the people listed at this site: http://www.basenet.net/~ebernabe/makefast.html
9. Start an Internet magazine mix-and-matching the following key words
8. Create a browser that becomes the industry standard.
7. Blackmail, blackmail, blackmail!
6. Convince Fortune 500 companies that they really need you to do HTML programming for them, even if you can't do forms.
5. Catch Kevin Mitnick, get a New York Times reporter to help you out and split a $750,000 book advance.
4. Send $5 to each of the people on this list. Then, add your name at the bottom of the list. Soon, you will receive $800,000 in the mail!
1920 Highland Ave. #222
Lombard, IL 60148
One Microsoft Way
Redmond, VA 08052.6399
The New York Times
229 W. 43rd St.
New York, NY 10036
3. Check out this site. http://www.cyberland.net/ reseller/#opportunity
Make up to $150,000 getting people online.
2. Make sure that your new operating system cripples competing online services and crashes Netscape browsers.
1. From the Web site $Make Money$ at http://www.west.net/~gc/money.htm.
"Buy this disk with 175 business/financial reports and get FULL REPRODUCTION RIGHTS! Sell the business and financial reports individually for $3 to $10 each, or sell the whole disk with all 175 reports for up to $200! The number of people ësurfing' the 'net is HUGE, and growing at approx 10% per month! Why not capitalize on the vast profit potential of ëThe Internet?' THIS MONEY MAKING BUSINESS IS HOT !!! ...AND ALWAYS WILL BE!...And Simple To Do!!! Hundreds and thousands of new on-line ësurfers' start each month."
Top 11 Worst Examples of Internet Hyperbole
Just like detergents boasting they'll make your clothes the cleanest and brightest, Web sites often tout their own brand of braggadocio. Here are absolutely the 11 biggest examples of Internet hyperbole in the universe:
11. ìKangaChat is perhaps the coolest WWW Chat Program yet, and it is on its way to becoming the most popularî -- KangaChat at http://kanga.xtc.net/
10. "The BEST Site on the 'Net for Western Canada Real Estate Information!" http://www.equitywest.com/
9. ìThe First Web-Based Magazine For The Eyecare Industry.î -- Optical Times http://www.asgo.net/~vakint/optimes.html
8. ìThe best looking guy in the planetî -- The Kevin Loo Home Page http://www.set.gov.bc.ca/set/who/kloo/default.html
7. ìThe ONLY WWW Page You Will Ever Need!î -- Links page from Hellas http://velox.stanford.edu/hellas/only_www.html
6. ìmall mall mall mall mall mall mall mall mall mall mall mall mall mall mall mall ... mall mall mall mall mall mall mall shopping shopping shopping shopping shopping shopping shopping shopping shoppingî -- Lycos abstract for The Malls of Canada Toronto Supercentre at http://www.canadamalls.com/1.html
5. ìCasterbridgeóThe finest city on the Internetî -- The Casterbridge City Square at http://www.mcs.dundee.ac.uk:8080/~dmitchel/index.html
4. ìThe Friendliest Channel on IRCôî -- The ìHow to play InitGame pageî at http://www.ee.mcgill.ca/~ricobey/irc/irc_initgame.txt
3. ìThe Largest Site of Sea Related
Activities in Greeceî -- at http://www.greeknews.com/boats/home.htm
2. ìThe Internet's single most huge repository for pornographic material. Nudes galore! So much hardcore info and pictures that it will make your eyes waterî -- a site promoting the band Midget bizarrO at http://uptown.turnpike.net/I/Iz/mbiz.html
1. ìThe Internet's Most Talked About World Wide Page!î -- a somewhat dubious claim from Robert M. Toups, Jr. regarding his Babes on the Web site at http://www.toupsie.com/BABE.html
Top 11 Newbie Faux Pas
11. Thinks "cool" sites are really cool
10. TYPES IN ALL CAPS
9. Goes into alt.devilbunnies looking to trade hot porno GIFs.
8. Omits the word "the" when it should be required. Example: "I am excited to learn about Internet."
7. Subscribes to GEnie
6. Actually pays their shareware fees*
5. Believes that they are anonymous when they send e-mail if they just use a vague screen name.
4. Might believe that someone in an AOL chat room really looks like Teri Hatcher.
3. Takes the 403 Forbidden notice personally. "Gee, why am I forbidden?"
2. Asks, "Why would I need Netscape when I've got AOL?"
1. Pastes lengthy messages into e-mail replies, then simply add, "Me too!"
*We'd like to encourage all our readers to respect all the hardworking shareware programmers out there and fork over their fees.
Top 11 Notable Things Ever Said About the Internet
We wanted to share quotes we thought were astute, however, that would be too genteel; we couldn't resist the opportunity to also reveal the multitudes of ridiculous statements. When people don't know much about something, they have a tendency to say stupid things about it. Congress has been doing it for years, so it's no wonder some of the more ludicrous statements can be attributed to one of its members.
11. "The information superhighway is a revolution that in years to come will transcend newspapers, radio and television as an information source. Therefore, I think this is the time to put some restrictions on it"
- Nebraska Senator James Exon
10. "I am glad that we've come to a successful closing of the 'peep-show' doors to our youth. The current lawlessness on the Internet has opened a virtual Triple-X-rated bookstore in the bedrooms of every child with a computer."
- ibid., PC Magazine, Feb. 1996
9. "The Internet, that very public network of computer networks, is notorious as a playground for computer hackers and ëcrackers'óthose malicious types who are intent on stealing from and wrecking others' computers rather than just breaking in for fun."
- Paul M. Eng, Business Week, October 31, 1994
8. "Do shitheads deserve anonymity as shitheads?"
- "Jackie," an anonymous a.s.b., cited from Wired, November 1994, in reference to Even Steven.
7. "One quarter of all images on the Internet are of women being tortured."
- Ralph Reed, spokesman for the Christian Coalition, on ABC's Nightline (was not countered by Ted Koppel).
6. "We're convinced that what's needed is a commercial Internet that has security, privacy, reliability and instant response."
- Richard S. Bodman, senior vice president, AT&T, Business Week, November 14, 1994.
5. "The Internet has become the electronic Hula-Hoop of the 1990s."
- Warren Caragata, writer, McLean's, Sept. 19, 1994.
4. "The Internet is expanding at logarithmic rates. A million new users will bring a few sociopaths."
- Joel Furr, Usenet moderator, The Nation, June 13, 1994.
3. "As in real surfing, it's tough to catch the wave right up under the curl. But when you're in the tube, you don't care what the people on the beach are saying about you."
- Nick Sullivan, Home Office Computing, November, 1994.
2. "I would like to see the Web crack the model of commerce we have in this countryóthe idea that the end goal of capitalism is to create huge, monolithic companies,"
- Denise Caruso, Utne Reader, March-April 1996.
1. "My keyboard is sticky. There's a cigarette burn on it. There's some baby applesauce on it. It's literally a sticky, fucked-up keyboard. It doesn't work," (Well, maybe not directly about the Internet, but we couldn't resist.)
- Courtney Love, Rolling Stone's Alt-rock-a-rama, 1996.
Started in 1985, Phrack ranks up there as one the longest-running electronic publications. Its digital pages are devoted to phreaking and hacking, both manifestations of the art of exploring, playing with and infiltrating telephone and computer networks. The site mentions that During its lifetime Phrack has always been at the center of controversy. Since the magazine has always been openly available, it presented law enforcement officials with what they perceived to be a direct link into the secret society of computer hackers. Not truly understanding either the spirit of the magazine or the community for which it was written, federal agents and prosecutors began to target Phrack magazine and those affiliated with it.
Law enforcement officials are invited to read Phrack -- as long as they register and pay a fee. The editors, however, encourage hobbyists to read the magazine gratis. Information should be free; that's the hacker creed.
DejaNews proves that words sometimes can come back to haunt you, thanks to its virtual vaults of old Usenet posts.
That's right, all your flames, those angry rants and the stuff you wrote after a few too many beers at the terminal now sit side-by-side with your most lucid, persuasive arguments in the DejaNews archives. The creation of DejaNews alarmed many netizens, especially those who posted with the belief that their words were transient, never realizing those same words might one day be catalogued for posterity in a library searchable by name and topic.
Started in 1979 with a handful of groups, Usenet now includes more than 13,000 special interest boards for discussion on topics ranging from Unix to beer brewing to foreign policy. The language of Usenet has always had a special quality, familiar and intimate, yet still formal, even in the harshest of flames. In this time-suspended public forum, users mistakenly believe that when their posts drop out of rotation (usually after a few weeks), they are gone forever. But it just isn't so anymore. DejaNews currently archives posts back to March 1995 for a total of 50 gigabytes of searchable data. Maintainers of the site say they plan to expand the service further, to include the last several years. DejaNews has essentially transformed Usenet from a transitory corkboard into a permanent library. The possibilities are astounding; you can compile a small report on a particular topic or track an individual's postings over time. This could be used for good, perhaps to conduct research on a particular topic. It also could allow someone to use your words against you, years from now.
Most commercial Web sites can trace their inspiration back to HotWired, the digital cousin of Wired. Innovative design coupled with a then-foreign medium allowed HotWired to grab the mainstream's attention and, for many, to serve as a role model. HotWired showed budding Webmasters that people would visit sites over and over again, even though it sported a design that sometimes exceeded its content. Even now, Webmasters continue to copy HotWired's basic layout. As one of the first sites to feature display advertising, HotWired also helped usher in the commercial era of the Web. But being first only goes so far. Since the inception of HotWired, many new sites have taken its basic format and improved upon it. Plenty offer better content, many offer superior graphics. So, by the time you read this, HotWired will likely have evolved again. Expected changes include collaboration with a beefed-up version of Suck (http://www.suck.com), the acerbic e-zine started independently by two trouble making HotWired employees that was later bought by their employer. In terms of content, Suck itself earns a distinguished place on this list. Carl Steadman and Joey Anuff deserve credit for being among the first to illustrate how to successfully write for the Web and by creatively weaving hyperlinks into their stories.
This site could be credited with exposing advertisers to the possibilities of creating their own content on the Web, something that causes us to shudder. Featuring a fridge packed with information explaining how to get around the Internet as well as a sales pitch for the clear alcoholic beverage, http://www.zima.com was arguably the first high-profile consumer site. It was also the first product to feature an e-mail address and later, a URL on its label. "It was also the first episodic content anywhere on the Internet, let alone advertising," notes G.M. O'Connell, the founder of Modem Media, the agency that created the site. People who stopped by the Zima fridge could follow the antics of a marginally likeable character named Duncan through regularly written reports on his love life.
But Duncan wasn't the only attraction.
"Here was a lot of value-added informational content that was important a year-and-a-half ago. It had pointers to useful places on the 'net, it had information about how to get around," O'Connell says. His company also took advantage of the earliest mass advertising arenas as well. When HotWired launched shortly after the Zima site debuted, the company bought loads of banners. At the time, banners were new. People still clicked on them.
Zima made a splash thanks to timing. Being first meant that others would have to follow. What kind of patterns would they adopt? Those that worked. No one can argue that Zima's overall marketing strategy wasn't successful. Modem Media wanted to get people to the site and they went there in big numbers. In many ways, Zima helped solidify a paradigm; create a site, distribute banners in key places to build traffic and sustain the momentum by advertising in more traditional mediums.
As the Web continues to expand, however, many of those basic elements have started to dissipate. At one point, HotWired reported that as many as 40 percent of the people who came across the Zima banners were clicking on them to get to the site. Now, most banners are lucky to get 5 percent of a site's traffic. "Since (zima.com) was launched, there's been a lot of imitations and emulsions. We've seen some growth (in how advertising is presented), but not much," O'Connell says.
7. The Spot
How could Web surfers not be seduced by sun-lovin' Californians, especially if they're wired?
That's what the creators of this episodic Web serial figured when they started The Spot in June of 1995. Essentially, The Spot took the basic concept of Zima's fictional Duncan and developed it into a stand-alone daily program. American Cybercast Network hoped to create an interactive version of television soaps. For a while, it worked. Fans flocked to the site to read the online diaries and to e-mail characters in hope of a response. But the suds of this online soap started to fizzle after the novelty of taking part in a cyber version of Melrose Place wore off.
Kay Dangaard, senior vice president of American Cybercast Network, a branch of Fattal & Collins agency in Marina del Rey, Calif., isn't surprised that many followed the interactive format of The Spot.
"Major entertainment and communication companies were contending with the question of how to put original entertainment on the Internet. We decided to jump in, boots and all, and do it. We launched The Spot, online, and we had an immediate hit. Now there's a proliferation of episodic Web sites that have followed."
6. Cool Site of the Day
Regardless of whether you ever thought Glenn Davis was cool, you have to admit that he started a phenomenon. While working as a bulletin board manager for the service provider InfiNet, Davis started a hobby of finding sites he liked and then showing them to his friends.
When he started Cool Site of the Day in August 1994, the Web was still in a fledgling state. "There were people who told me that I wouldn't last a month," Davis says. At first he received only a handful of hits. By the end of last year, CSotD was generating 40,000 hits daily and people were literally falling over themselves to have the former toll collector anoint their site with his golden hyperlink.
Davis has since left to start his own venture with the patently unoriginal name "Project Cool." But CSotD lives on and so does its impact; legions of netizens now decree themselves arbiters, regardless of their yardstick.
Davis also revived a trend we find continually disturbing -- this whole "cool" business. Would someone please come up with another adjective?
5. ESPN SportsZone
The Web, once a bastion of free information, increasingly resembles cable TV. Huh? Well, with cable you pay a monthly fee for basic content; premium channels such as HBO or Disney are extra. You might be able to blame ESPN SportZone if this whole cable model takes off. SportsZone offers a lot of information for free, but it charges a monthly subscription fee for full access to the site. While company officials won't say how many subscribers they've pulled in, they note that the site's success shows that people are willing to pay for good content. As companies realize that ads alone won't pay for their sites, expect more to follow ESPN's lead. The Wall Street Journal, Playboy and Autosite have already moved to a two-tiered system.
4. The World Wide Web Consortium
No one would ever make the mistake of calling the World Wide Web Consortium a flashy site. Yet inside the plain-paper wrapping of standard grey background and default text beats the heart of the Web.
W3C is an industry consortium run by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in collaboration with CERN, the particle physics lab in Europe where the Web was born. Their mission: Set standards and develop software for the Web, and act as the scribes and personal attendants to the new technology.
So what is the W3C busy doing? Projects include working to define and simplify ratings systems, graphics specifications, electronic payment schemes, auditing and demographics, security and multimedia. They have led the way in creating new standards for HTML. They maintain a library of Web references that gives a history of the Web as well as primers on various Internet resources. They also serve up all kinds of free Internet software, from an http server to a robotic application that can traverse the Web to their own Web browser, Arena.
Funding for the project is provided by W3C members, and its dance card is packed with some prestigious names. You'll recognize such suitors as Apple, Microsoft, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Adobe, NEC, AOL, Digital, MCI, Sony, Netscape and scores more. Make it past their uninspiring page design and you'll find a quiet, priceless library.
Yawn. Yep, we're profiling Yahoo. Yeah, we know. You've been there, done that. We understand that it makes you feel good to act all jaded, but don't you dare pretend you're too good to use Yahoo. C'mon. Everyone uses Yahoo and everyone should. We're here to tell you why.
You see, Yahoo is a paradox of trends. As more people get online and visit Yahoo on their maiden voyage, it becomes decidedly uncool for veterans to go there. Ironically, Yahoo increases in usefulness every time a newbie links to it. Why? Yahoo is designed to grow and branch out from the collective consciousness. Unlike a traditional library, where the establishment decides where books fit in the Dewey Decimal System, Yahoo is a massive project, reflecting the unusual interests of Web users and demanding its own (often bizarre) categorical structure.
The site was created by two Stanford University electrical engineering graduate students, David Filo and Jerry Yang. They began the library of sites in April 1994 as a glorified hotlist. It soon became popular, and in early 1995, Marc Andreessen of Netscape invited the pair to move the database over to Netscape's servers. As the then-default directory of the world's most popular browser, Yahoo developed a built-in audience that soon catapulted into name-brand status. It wasn't long before the task of indexing sites grew into a full-time job, and the two students decided to make a living from it, officially launching Yahoo, the company. With their recent public offering, they're now rich and famous and the envy of schmoes everywhere.
The FAQ notes that "The name Yahoo! is supposed to stand for ëYet Another Hierarchical Officious Oracle' but Filo and Yang insist they selected the name because they considered themselves yahoos." We theorize that it denotes a yelp of glee, not unlike a Homer Simpson-style "Woohoo!" Karen Edwards, director of brand management for Yahoo comments, "The future of Yahoo is very dependent upon how cool or interesting the sites are that people create. If there continues to be a large volume of increasingly creative sites, then our surfer team is going to be even busier indexing sites in an intuitive, human way. Our challenge will continue to be making sense of the growing mass of content and pointing people into the right places, not just as many places as possible."
While there may not be such a thing as a free lunch, Netscape's site is the closest the 'net has to offer. Netscape's site went online in the fall of 1994 in the dark ages of the Web. Within six months, the Netscape browser became the standard bearer on the Web, a position the company still holds almost two years later. The reason for Netscape's popularity? Primarily, the price.
Our browser was better, more flexible and freely available. The switching costs to Netscape were low -- it did all that Mosaic did, but better," says Martin Haeberli, Netscape's director of technology. Netscape has maintained its leading position through constant innovation. Version 2.0 incorporated tables, java applets, Shockwave and a host of plug-ins. The company's unique strategy can be felt throughout the Web where new programs (RealAudio, Shockwave) or ones that previously cost money (QuickTime), also are given away free for the download. Many 'net pundits question how long Netscape will be able to keep its position as lord of the Web, especially with Bill Gates threatening to take it over. Haeberli remains confident. "We set the pace and we will continue to set the pace," he says.
1. Electronic Frontier Foundation
The Electronic Frontier Foundation is kind of like Amnesty International or the American Civil Liberties Union. You don't pay much attention to them -- until you're jailed in some hellhole with a crust of bread and no water or some small-town official says you can't hold your feminist rally on public property.
Similarly, in the wild new frontier of the Internet, you might not give the EFF a second thought -- until you realize that the government is proposing to hold the key to your encrypted communications, and on top of that, they don't want to hear any more dirty language. The EFF, however, has had a higher profile in recent months as it lobbied against the Communications Decency Act and launched the ensuing Blue Ribbon Campaign.
The EFF, founded in 1990, serves the public good primarily through their newsletter and their Action Alerts that describe threats to online freedom and educate through publishing the case history, judicial rulings, press clippings and linking to relevant Web sites. Their concerns are preserving free speech and the right to cryptography and privacy. The EFF was the first organization that realized that freedom of online speech would one day be subject to scrutiny and endangered a scary vision that proved to be true.