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The former future of the year 2000

David Bauer writes about how the year 2000, which used to seem futuristic, seems very distant now.

After a refreshing shower — pretty much like you remember it from 2013 — you make yourself comfortable at the breakfast table. You’re an early adopter, so you have your laptop right there with you to check the news. While you wait for the computer to start up, you have time to brew some coffee.

Time to check Twitter for the latest…ah well, no Twitter yet. So let’s see what your friends are up to over on Face…doesn’t exist either. Not even MySpace. Heck, not even Friendster.

The upside is this: You’re in for distraction-free news reading. You head over to, the online version of The Guardian, then to The New York Times On The Web. You glance at the newspaper across the table, knowing it provides the better news fix.

I turned 27 in 2000, lived in San Francisco, worked as a web designer, and had been using the web since 1994…and most of the people I knew were similar. We were a bunch of outliers, people with lots of knowledge about and access to technology and the internet. So a lot of what he writes doesn’t ring true to me, especially the bit above, and extra especially the newspaper providing “the better news fix”.

News sites worked just fine in 2000 and the growing network of weblogs worked even better…they were news and social networks all rolled up into one. Google Maps didn’t exist, but Mapquest did. Wikipedia didn’t exist, but you could still find information about Ghana through Google and Altavista. I owned a digital camera in 1998 and many people I knew had them in 2000. Napster (and the other P2P networks that sprung up around that time) was an amazing music discovery resource. Sharing relatively large files with friends a la Dropbox was possible because we all had our own web sites and FTPing something to your server so someone else could grab it was simple. Things went viral through weblogs and mailing lists. Travel was easy to book online; Expedia launched in 1996. You could shop for groceries online. You could get almost anything delivered same-day to your door with Kosmo.

So yeah, there were no iPods or wifi-enabled laptops or iPhones or Twitter, but if you were an early adopter who lived in a big US city and spent lots of time online, 2000 isn’t as distant as it might seem for everyone else.