Flashback From 1998: When Altavista, Lycos And Porn Ruled the Web


Media Metrix, December 1998(Before we dig too far into this, you may want to visit the 56k Modem Emulator, to establish the proper sonic mood. Ah, that beloved squeal.)

A colleague (who is handsome and wise) recently discovered an old Media Metrix report delineating “World Wide Web Audience Ratings” for December 1998. It’s a remarkable study, categorizing thousands of sites and conglomerated web companies.

This thing is like finding election results from 1880; like coming across the original Billboard music chart. It looks familiar, like you should know all of the component elements, but it’s unrecognizable. As though they’re all brands made up for movies.

Before we get into examples of what I mean, I’d like to point something else out. What I have here before me is a 300-page spiral bound book. As in, paper. As in, in 1998, Media Metrix printed out thousands of 300-page books to give to people to deepen their understanding of the Web. I considered various analogies here, and settled on this one.

So, join me as we walk twelve years backward into the halcyon days of the World Wide Web.

The Introduction
An informative Venn diagramThe modern usefulness of the introduction can be summarized by the image at left. In 1998, those paying for detailed statistics about various web properties were nonetheless stymied by the concept of visiting a site from work and home. (They were also stymied by Venn diagrams, necessitating a labeling of the overlap.)

If you’re actually interested in the data, here are the demographics used. A solid million of them were teenage girls, and yet Justin Bieber is nowhere to be found, despite already being four years old.

>>>NEXT PAGE: The Rankings:

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