We all take the world wide internet for granted these days, but there was a time when it was new and exciting and full of promise. It was quite a bit different before Facebook and Google and Twitter and that lot. Your first port of call was usually your internet service provider’s “home-page,” which provided regularly-updated links to news and such.
This is what such a thing looked like to users of Ireland On-Line back in the year 2000…
I was already an on-line veteran at this stage, having been a user of the internet since before the World Wide Web was invented. Remember dial-up bulletin-boards? Downloading TGA images and FAQ files and ASCII art and shareware games? Such fun! (Many times I walked into the city at lunchtime to give to my friend John McCarrick a bunch of files on floppy disk because it was much faster than sending him the stuff over the internet.)
I screen-grabbed the above image from Ireland On-Line because I’d been doing some work for Flunk.net, a long-gone website aimed at young people — you can see the link to Flunk.net in the top-ten Irish sites column on the left.
For Flunk I mostly wrote movie reviews — which meant attending press-screenings and sometimes getting free promo merchandise: great fun! — but my crowning achievement was writing the site’s Guidebook for third-level students. It was packed with handy tips and advice on studying, budgeting, health, safety, relationships, landlords, potential legal issues, partying, substance abuse, emergency procedures, and so on…. everything a new student — perhaps living on their own for the first time — would need. Thing is, though, I’d left school two weeks after my sixteenth birthday and had never been to college. I’m not saying that I made it all up, but certainly there were some aspects that had a stronger foundation in imagination than experience. Got away with it, too.