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June 3, 1999 by Dave Kristula
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I remember the early days of the web - very vaguely. With the newest release of Mosaic on my best bud's Drew's box, I was shown Yahoo.com - the to-be dominating catalog-engine portal to the Internet, and the AT&T web site. I wasn't especially captivated by the web as it was. There were no banner ads, and maybe a few dozen thousand web sites at most. That was back in late 1994.

Shortly thereafter, the folks popped up with Netscape Navigator. My best bud's father told me that this Mosaic thing was going to be the next big thing, and I just shrugged if off. I was a BBSer back then - and soon moved onto America Online. After a year of hassles with AOL (who wouldn't let me help anyone because I was under 18 years old) I switched to a local ISP in 1995 and have been there ever since. A lot has changed over the years.

From 1995 until summer of 1996 I hadn't a web page at all. Then one day, no, two days, after I finished up the eighth grade year of schooling I was smacked with an e-mail, forwarded by my best bud, that told of a start-up called the Commonwealth Network. They promised me real cash in exchange for showing banners on a web site - so I learned HTML in four hours, and had a ten page site overnight. I think I made about sixty bucks my first month - for about sixty hours of work - but I was happy. I had a job - and a job without hours, bosses, and I could drink as much Jolt Cola as I wanted. Life was good.

After a few short months, The Commonwealth Network changed their policy drastically within a few hours, giving no warning whatsoever, so a group of us webmasters got together to form a Union against them. We had nearly five hundred members - almost all of the most powerful members of the Network. With boycotts and emails, we put a pretty big dent into the Commonwealth's business, and eventually most of us found alternatives. So where is the Commonwealth now? It's part of a conglomeration called 24/7 Media. It feels like everyone is being bought today.

In the hosting world, both Tripod and Angelfire have been absorbed by the Lycos Network. Recently, Geocities and Yahoo got together. America Online purchased Netscape, and Microsoft purchased the beloved LinkExchange. Is this mania going to end? Probably not. The outlook looks good for anyone having anything to do with the Internet. Me, you, and the eleven year old down the street. Maybe if you're lucky he'll make an offer to buy you out, that is, if Microsoft doesn't get to you (or him, for that matter) first!

  Dave Kristula is the Editor of SLASH.
	He spends most of his time developing
	film at a local drug store (can you say
	one hour photo?!)  If you are in desperate
	need of a chat, he can be reached via email at
	themag.editor@davesite.com
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