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You Probably Don’t Remember the Internet


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Echoes of Internet Past.

Plenty of people are working to archive the Internet as quickly as it slips away.

Credit: Jim Steele/Popperfoto/Getty/Wikimedia/The Atlantic

For many of us, for better or for worse, the internet is home. Our communities are here, because many of them could not exist any other way. Superfans, shitposters, amateur experts, wiki nerds, grizzled forum moderators, obsessive sneaker enthusiasts, and hobbyists who spend a substantial amount of their time photographing vintage Furbies in human clothes, for example—the cultural and creative output of these communities is enormous and ever growing.

At the same time, the internet is constantly disappearing. It's a world of broken links and missing files—often because the people in charge cast things off on a whim. In 2019, MySpace lost 50 million music files and apologized for "the inconvenience." Around the same time, Flickr started deleting photos at random. Even though many of Vine's most unnerving or charming or "iconic" six-second videos have been preserved, its community was shattered when the platform was shut down. It doesn't help that the internet has no attention span and no loyalty: What isn't erased or deleted can still be quickly forgotten, buried under a pile of new platforms, new subcultures, and new joke formats. The feed refreshes, and so does the entire topography of the web.

 

From The Atlantic
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