When the Web was Cool


The Atlantic has a great read on the good old days when coolness (or maybe not) ruled the web.  Back in the 90’s, when all of this was new, there were some mostly (and mostly thankfully) now-forgotten trends.  One of them was publicly shared bookmarks- a list of (allegedly) interesting sites to visit.  This evolved into blog rolls, which you still see once in a while.  Another was guest books, where visitors could- if they were so inclined- add their names and acknowledge their visit.  Sort of a communal “Kilroy was here” sort of thing.  Another was were script driven, rotating lists of links where you could add your page’s link to the top.  Then return later, after it had rotated off, and add it again.  I remember adding the first iteration of Newsome.Org to such a list hosted by (and I’m not even kidding) some teddy bear company.


And there were awards.  Everyone had one.  The one I bestowed on lucky web masters was called the Rancho DeNada Outpost of the Week.  Awesome, right?  The graphic above is the original award from the mid-nineties (converted to png).

Here’s a screen cap of the page with the lucky winners, also from the mid-nineties.

Click for a larger version of this vintage awesomeness!
Click for a larger version of this vintage awesomeness!

Of those, the only one I still visit is IMDB.  I can’t even remember most of them.

Of course, the mid-nineties version of Newsome.Org also won some awards.  It was hard not to.  Here’s a screen cap of the page with some of those approbations, again from the mid-nineties.

Click for a larger image of this vintage awesomeness!
Click for a larger image of this vintage awesomeness!

Those were fun days.  Looking back, a lot of these trends look like the digital equivalent of a bad haircut.  But like haircuts, what looks silly today was rocking back in the day.  Or was it?

The Home Place Has Moved (Here’s How to Get It Back)

For many, many years, I have operated and used The Home Place as a custom internet start page. Back in the very early days of the web, it actually got a little press, as being cutting edge.

click for larger image

Not so much anymore, but I still use it, as do various family members and friends. As I noted the other day, however, things are changing around here. I’m moving Newsome.Org to WordPress.Com (the hosting company; I’ve been using the WordPress blogging platform for a long time).  This will save me a lot of money.  I like money.

The move makes it impossible to keep The Home Place at Newsome.Org. Without too much nerdity, the reason is because WordPress.Com does not allow you to have custom named web pages in a custom location in your web directory. So, I have set up The Home Place at another location.

Here is the new address:

http://newsome.cc/jknstart (click here to go there now). Update:  see below for new, better plan.

If your company, like mine, annoyingly blocks cloud services- in this case Dropbox- and I know you, email me and I’ll send you a zip file with the web page files in it. You can unzip them onto your computer, and set your home page (via Options or Preferences in your browser) as the local (e.g., on your computer) jknstart.html file. I have to do that at work, and it works fine.

Sorry for the inconvenience.

Update:  OK, so none of that worked well.  In fact, it sucked.  So The Home Place is back, new and improved.  It does have a new web address:


Set that address as your browser home page (via the Settings or Preferences in your browser) and you’ll be all set.

In Praise of PostSecret

Most people who read my blog already know about PostSecret, but some may not. And I’m fixing to change that.

PostSecret is one of the most popular blogs in the world. Only is isn’t really a traditional blog. It’s one of those ideas that seem so simple, yet almost indescribably brilliant. It’s one of those ideas that you can’t believe you didn’t have, yet you know you never would have thought of it.

People anonymously send in the picture side of homemade postcards. Postcards that have a picture or drawing and a message. Something the sender wants or needs to say. It sounds dull, until you start reading them. Then it becomes incredibly powerful. Some of the images and messages are just routine observations. But some of them are stunning in their insight, their sadness, their remorse.

You have to see it to appreciate it, but once you start reading PostSecret, you will never stop.

Dwight's Favorite Tech Blogs

Dwight Silverman of the Houston Chronicle is doing a series on his favorite web sites. He calls it his Fave6, and lists his six favorite web sites in various categories.

This weekend he did tech blogs, and I am honored to be one of the six along with Ed Bott, Steve Rubel, the Sunbelt Blog, Om Malik and Guy Kawasaki.

Obviously, Dwight can’t pick his own blog, but his TechBlog would certainly be on anyone else’s list of favorite tech blogs, including mine.

Thanks for including me Dwight. I really appreciate it.

One More From the List

I was very happy to see this morning that I got another one of the presents on my Christmas List. John Perry Barlow has a new blog entry. Even better, he indicates he will write more blog posts and emails in 2006. That is great news.

Not only is John a brilliant songwriter, the co-founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and one of the most intelligent and interesting (not a terribly common combination) writers I have ever read, he is a really nice guy. When Cassidy was born in 1998 and named after a song John co-wrote, I emailed him, told him about Cassidy and sent him a photo. He wrote Cassidy not one but 3 emails over the next year or so, just checking in to see how she was doing. Those emails will mean as much to Cassidy when she grows up as they do to me now.

I hope to read a lot of John’s writing in 2006. Welcome back, my friend!

The final count on my list seems to be 9 out of 10 (never made it on Dwight Silverman‘s blogroll). I’ll take those numbers any time. Especially if one of the 9 is more posts at BarlowFriendz.

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He Write Good

Kevin Hales is a friend of mine and one of the best writers I know. I’ve read his posts on ACCBoards.Com for years. Now he has a blog. Kevin’s one of those rare folks who can write about anything and make it intensely interesting. Witness this excerpt from his hilarious post about the neighborhood Buddhist-in-training:

You know, the putz from some American suburb who has recently discovered Buddhism and has gotten all Zenny and over-serious? The guy who doesn’t own a TV and needs to tell everyone about it?

He will find you at parties, sometimes. His name might be, I don’t know, Benjamin. He might have a goatee, or maybe just some ridiculous spot of hair on his chin. He might say, “My name is Ben. I don’t say ‘Benjamin’ anymore because people can’t spell it.” (I never understood this.) At some point, really way too soon in the conversation, he’ll say something about Buddhism. Then he’ll say, “Not Boo-dism, mind you–Boo-thism. There’s an H in there. Not many people know that.” This will mark the first time you really really should get away from him.

But you can’t. He has identified you as the guy he’s going to mentor about Eastern philosophy tonight. He mildly, but firmly, says, “Let me ask you a question. Why do you work?” If you are smart, at this point you will stab him in the neck with the nearest moderately pointy object within reach. More of us are not smart when faced with this guy, though. We are naive. What you do is fumble a bit and then say, “Well, I guess to make money.”

Bookmark his blog. You’ll be glad you did.

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Friday’s Link: Good News Blog


If, like me, you are getting sick and tired of the media’s obsession with fear and devastation, the Good News Blog is for you.

Here’s what the “About” page has to say:

GoodNewsBlog.com is about real news, about positive news. Its about people helping people, lucky escapes, miraculous rescues, great scientific breakthroughs. It’s about the majority of people going about their daily lives without making that bad big impact that gets them that negative headline. Its about you and me just living our daily life.

There is a definite, though not in-your-face, Christian slant to this blog. That’s a good thing (both the slant and the not in-your-face part) as far as I’m concerned, but I thought I’d point it out for those who feel differently.

After all the bad news we’ve seen, heard and read lately, the Good News Blog is a much appreciated breath of fresh air.

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