from the happy halloween! dept
Five Years Ago
Since we’re talking about history, let’s start with the end of an era: it was this week in 2010 that Sony officially stopped making the cassette Walkman, which was surprising news since most people didn’t realize it was still making them.
In the world of ACTA, the US more or less said that it would ignore anything it doesn’t like, while a group of prominent law professors urging the president to halt his endorsement of the agreement and the government in India was asking questions about how it effects other trade agreements. Some countries were barrelling ahead with their own IP plans: France’s HADOPI was sending out 25,000 first strike notices every day, Korea was kicking people offline under its recent new copyright regime, and Denmark was secretly working on a three strikes plan of its own.
And again on the subject of history, we saw some preservation efforts after another recent end-of-an-era moment: a huge archive of sites from the recently-closed Geocities was released as a 1TB torrent for anyone to download.
Ten Years Ago
Not that much has changed, but back in 2005 it was still trendy to bash the internet for all sorts of silly reasons. This week, we saw Forbes publish an article bashing blogs for not being real journalism, and our old friend Nicholas Carr took up the mantle of attacking and belittling all the amateur content to be found online, with a flimsy focus on Wikipedia. TV networks, at least, were starting to hesitantly embrace the need for change (though as often as not, they screwed it up).
Meanwhile, the internet was bracing itself further for the ever-growing onslaught of spam, while some were getting creative in spamming themselves, like the company that mass-emailed its competitors clients after the competitor accidentally revealed their emails, or the UK government’s plan to spam the people with direct marketing messages, or the apparent trend of recruiting college kids to spam their friends in person.
Fifteen Years Ago
This week in 2000, we saw the first baby steps of Google’s metamorphosis into an advertising juggernaut as the company starting selling keyword-based search ads. Similarly, we took a peek at the early clues suggesting Linux’s future dominance — not as a desktop replacement, but as an OS filling all sorts of ubiquitous computing niches. (Little did we know Android would come along and connect these two things closely — at the time, Nokia was the king of wireless).
In these innocent early days of the internet, people were still struggling with questions like “is it email or e-mail?” and “should I rearrange my home for my computer?” (though that last one was a little unclear…) The still-raging battle about whether the internet isolates people was in full force, and perhaps the only thing anyone could say with certainty is that predictions are difficult (and a lot of futurists are kind of silly).
Forty-Two Years Ago
Not all technical achievements are digital, and this week we mark one that was decidedly old-fashioned — in fact, it’s something that has been dreamed of for 2500 years, since Darius I of Persia achieved a prototypical version by stringing a bunch of boats together. Since those days of antiquity, rulers have wished they could bridge the Bosphorous Strait in modern-day Turkey, the great and only link between Europe and Asia (unless you have a lot of seafaring vessels or feel like marching through Russia over the Caucusus). It was on October 30th, 1973 that this feat was first truly achieved with the completion of the Bosphorous Bridge, which at the time of its construction was the fourth-longest suspension bridge in the world and the longest outside the United States. It’s since been joined by a second bridge across the historic strait, with a third set to open soon. Alexios Komnenos would be jealous.