I contributed a short essay to Newsweek’s 2010 project for the Overblown Fears list: Y2K.
Despite the media hype, the biggest story about the Y2K computer bug is that nothing happened. Trains didn’t spontaneously derail. McDonald’s didn’t roll back to turn-of-the-century pricing (no Happy Meals for a ha’penny). And the banks didn’t lose all of our money; we’d have to wait another eight years for that.
Farhad Manjoo recently did a 2-part piece on the lessons of Y2K for Slate.
Farhad Manjoo on the unrecognizable Internet of 1996.
I started thinking about the Web of yesteryear after I got an e-mail from an idly curious Slate colleague: What did people do online back when Slate launched, he wondered? After plunging into the Internet Archive and talking to several people who were watching the Web closely back then, I’ve got an answer: not very much.
David Wertheimer calls bullshit and retorts:
The World Wide Web was an invigorating, compelling and, frankly, amazing place in 1996. Innovations were fast, furious and quickly adopted. Clever people did clever things and pretty much everyone noticed, because “everyone” was a rather small and curious community. […] The Internet of 1996 was certainly nothing like today’s experience. But to suggest there wasn’t much to do is to ignore everything that was being done.
I’m obviously with Team David on this one.