Friday, January 04, 2008

A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE INTERNET



((A Toshiba robot cranks out a rendition of "I Should Be So Lucky" on violin, causing the attendant press scrum to erupt into pandemonium. Will tomorrow's robots render human musicians obsolete? Will social security office floorboards groan under the heavy influx of outta-work guitarists, singer-songwriters and DJs? Too bloody right they will!))

1980 - Military scientists invent the Internet. First 'webpages' comprise basic army inventories and badly transcribed Fall lyrics.

1981 - 'IRC' is rolled out among bored soldiers. Now platoons can send each other abusive messages under fake names. However, one barracks in Texas is subjected to a secret experiment. 150 hand-picked grunts are told that they will be allowed to communicate, via IRC, with some local "pretty girls". Although they will not immediately be allowed to meet these girls face-to-face, they are encouraged to build up relations with their online 'dolls'.

In fact, the 'chicks' are really a couple of military psychologists. Interacting with these soldiers, the shrinks are able to build up personality profiles: which guys are the loose cannons, blabbing classified information as soon as their commanders' backs are turned?; which are the sensitive crybabies?; who's considering deserting to start a new life with his online 'babe'?; who's got the most extreme sexual perversions?; who's depressed and about to 'crack'? All this info comes in very handy. Soon, IRC is recognised as a vital means of keeping tabs on active serviceman.

1982 - Soviets rumoured to be working on their own Internet - "COMINWEB"

1983 - Things are still dragging somewhat. Some prat claims that the Internet will lead to the biggest shake-up in global human communication since comic books introduced speech bubbles, but nobody's buying it yet.

Meanwhile, the games industry only just manages to cover up the scandal of the year. Animal rights activists discover that Atari Corp marketing executives and games developers have been working alongside staff at the National Institute of Medical Research ((located on The Ridgeway, Mill Hill, London NW7)). Chimpanzees, originally procured by the Institute for the purpose of 'neurological research', are reduced to various states of brain damage before being forced to 'trial' prototypes of new Atari games. The games giant apparently believes this is a good way to assess 'playability', and whether some game 'levels' need to be made harder or easier to complete. Many of the hapless chimps ((who are literally handcuffed to joysticks and forced to play the games for up to 12-14 hours at a time)) expire during or shortly after these diabolical ordeals. After several sweaty-palmed phone calls to its backers, the Institute manages to quash the expose' ((necessitating the elimination of several ALF operatives)) and keeps the press off its back. Atari subsequently moves its sordid chimp tests to an unspecified laboratory in Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire ((however, this doesn't stop the ALF launching a firebomb revenge attack on the Institute a few years later)).

1984 - A leaked document suggests that "pissing about on IRC" indirectly contributed to the previous year's "Able Archer 83" controversy. IRC is temporarily suspended.

1986 - Chatline operators are convinced that the Internet can fill their coffers, reasoning that lonesome men would LOVE to stop playing "Psycho Pigs UXB" and "Barbarian" on their ZX Spectrums, and instead chat to 'real women online', live. As indeed they can, simply by connecting their computers to their phone lines! However, swapping dirty fantasies with SEXY SUZIE ((ie- some bloke eating jaffa cakes in a basement flat)) isn't cheap - a minute's dial-up costs nearly £70!

1989 - The Berlin Wall comes down. The Internet is now declared 'ready for business'. Porn providers lick their greasy chops, they know they've just got to hang on in there for a few more years, until technology improves, and then, KER-BOSH, just watch the wonga pour in.

1993 - Everyone's doing Bulletin Boards (BBs), but computers are still too crap to show decent video footage of well-hung dwarves ejaculating into rubbered-up Korean schoolgirls' armpits. Instead, 'webbed-up' indie kids find BBs the perfect medium to disseminate reviews of Frank & Walters / Teenage Fanclub / Wedding Present / Linus / Gallon Drunk / Flying Saucer Attack gigs. RIot GRRLs use BBs to discuss queer politics and rad feminist theory. Wannabe writers hack out novels and short stories. Berkeley students make the first serious attempt to compile a comprehensive Throbbing Gristle discography. Anarchist pranksters pre-arrange raves on the tube and 'capers' such as ringing all the public telephone box numbers in Kings Cross. It's all great, unless you haven't got a computer and you're not on dial up every waking hour - in which case, you miss about 99.9% of them.

1995 - According to surveys, 56% of Americans, 12% of Brits and 0.0000041% of Africans are now on the Internet.

1996 - Everyone's going on about cybersex and the evolution of pleasure, as if we're really going to have skull-shattering orgasms online, rather than sit in a library, typing "I WANNA SNIFF UR PUSSY" to someone who's probably a 43-year old taxi driver.

1997 - Suddenly - everyone's on the Net. Porn providers discover 'thumbnails' and how to set up 'members' areas' and are promptly swept under a tidal wave of credit card details. The average person now spends as much as 3 hours a day "firing off emails", some of which even arrive within 10 minutes of being sent. Nigerian conmen ((approx 0.0000041% of the population)) realise this could be a good way to make bucks.

1998 - IRC is reintroduced. Neo-nazis virtually disappear from the streets, retreating indoors to verbally abuse commies, ethnics and Jews over the modem. Now anyone can knock up a website in 3 minutes flat, using some Yahoo! account thing. Web designers rub their paws together and think of all the blow jobs they'll be getting when corporations cough up gazillions of $$$$$$ for their aesthetically pleasing, business-generating site designs. Dot.com company 'directors' blow their mortgages on coke and champagne, telling each other, repeatedly, "Shee, the Internet, it'sh thing of the future, hic!" etc

1999 - By now, the average UK office worker has A) been sent the story about the woman who shoves a lobster up her cunt in the bath and gives birth to hundreds of crayfish B) witnessed some act of gross sexual depravity on 'Real Audio Viewer' C) panicked and begged IT to wipe their hard drives clean. The web designers end up redesigning homepages for ailing shipping magazines. The dot.com companies go bust and their "self-made" directors end up on the street, or committing hari kiri.

2002 - Drum'n'bass fans in Toronto invent the 'MP3'. Now everyone can download music for free on AudioGalaxy. The record companies and second-hand dealers mess their trousers and reach for the valium. Fancy hearing Sexy Terrorist by Sara Goes Pop? Or how about No D.S Allowed by the Rhythmic State? Why not download the entire United Dairies back catalogue? Fancy a bit of Luc Ferrari with your Blood & Fire archives, ma? AudioGalaxy has everything ever recorded. The RIAA closes it down promptly - but it's soon back, using the pseudonym 'Soulseek'.

2003 - An out of work NME hack invents Blogger.com. Soon, everyone's blogging away. Not many people know this, but the first ever music blog post wasn't, er, posted by Simon Reynolds, Geeta Dayal, or even Matt Woebot. It was, in fact, by DAVID SEE - author of the controversial tome How to Be A Professional Disc Jockey, and it was entitled, "GREAT BLOW JOBS I HAVE HAD IN THE DJ BOOTH, PT 1". This post related a fateful night in 1980, when David was DJing at the Hanging Sheep in Borehamwood, and a peroxide blonde and her mate, who had cherubism, 'rewarded' David with a 'double 99' as a 'thank you' for agreeing to play Barbados by Typically Tropical. Sadly, this, along with the classic posts " HAPPY HARDCORE HOCHMAGANDY" and "GREAT RECORDS I HAVE MIXED TOGETHER" were lost forever when David accidentally deleted his blog during a Babycham bender - leaving us instead a legacy of 'inferior' weblogs, such as Beyond the Implode RIP, Uncarved and An Idiot's Guide To Creaming.

2005 - Rupert Murdoch pays someone to invent Myspace. Now bands don't have to go through the ritual of being bottled offstage by discerning critics. Nor must they find themselves being financially ripped off by pederastic promoters with links to organised crime families. They can just stick their songs on a computer and play them to 1,683,637 people in one afternoon! Soon, every band ever is on Myspace. Even the Ovaltinees, some stunningly appalling NF band from 1983, make it onto there - and make 'new friends' in the process.

2007 - The Internet is now as much a part of our lives as coffee and cigarettes. We all know some sucker who's just surrendered his/her privacy and dignity by creating a profile on 'Facebook', as surely as we know someone who's been dragged in front of his/her company's HR department for downloading DJ CUNTFINGER's epic "SREBRENICA TANKFEST" mix during working hours. We buy clothes, books and electronic goods on Amazon, and then describe them on Wikipedia. Too tired to go to a concert? Why not wait until it appears on YouTube, and watch it in the privacy of your own living room. Or on the toilet, if you wish - anything goes. Love playing Scrabble, but haven't found anyone who shares your enthusiasm for the great game since mum passed away? Why not log onto 'Scrabulous.com', where you can take on people from all over the world - assuming you don't mind the fact that the fucking Scrabulous dictionary includes erroneous entries like "WIFES" and, since players have discovered that "QI" is apparently a word (yeah, right), every single fucking game includes use of the 'word' "QI" because no cunt can be bothered to wait for a "U" to turn up, to construct a real word beginning with "QU..."

Indeed, we can only wonder what the Internet holds in store for us in 2008! One thing's for sure - the Information Superhighway hasn't shrunk - the more of it we explore, the longer it seems to be. And we've certainly come a very, very long way since 1980.
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