The old Internet, as I remember it, was made up of words. Moving images conquered it later, but try to name more than a handful of iconic images—moving or static—from the pre-Flash Internet. “Under construction” GIFs. Ate My Balls. Dancing babies, I guess. What else? Most of it has faded from memory.
Images were secondary. I think of the old Internet—my old Internet—as a boundless, endless universe of words, many of them underlined, and all of those underlined words in blue. Visualize the Yahoo directory page for your favorite topic, circa 1998, and you visualize page after page of blue, underlined words, waiting for you to click through.
All those blue, underlined words represented one more path you hadn’t yet taken, one more voice you hadn’t yet encountered, one more door you hadn’t yet opened. You’d leave a trail of purple in your wake, showing where you’d already clicked and what you’d already seen. But no matter how much you saw, no matter how much purple you spread around the surface of the Internet, you never ran out of blue. There was always more, taking you deeper and deeper into something you’d never reach the end of.