Before Youtube- Installment 1: The Hampster Dance

Dearest internet-denizens. Today, allow me to take you on a trip. A trip to a simpler, but not easier time. An era filled with gifs, flash and quicktime. A period of  history when just about everyone on the block had the web, but you all commiserated en masse about just how long things took to load. A time before 2005, when former Paypal employees would finally create that media sharing device we all cried out for. Before there was one spot- and only one spot- where we could all go for amusing, inane videos and meme fodder.

A time before Youtube.

No. no. Not before Youtube became a subsidiary of Google in 2006. Not before people started blogging about how it changed the world and shrank our social circles. Not before the absurdists and unmedicated ADDers came up with “Youtube Poop”.

Before it existed.

Do you remember that time, dear interwebz?

Back in the early days, you had to know what page you wanted. You had to know where the funny or the entertaining or the weird was. You had to type web-addresses.

And once you did know, you desperately wanted to share.

In future Before Youtube posts,  I’m going to take us all down a little side road I like to call nostalgia and bring up a few videos you may or may not have seen along with some history on when and where they spawned.

To kickstart our little journey, let’s talk dancing hampsters. You remember that, right? You typed in ‘www.hampsterdance.com’ and you got a simple page filled with spinning, bouncing gifs set to the tune of ‘The Whistle Stop’? That damnable, un-unhearable, catchy as hell tune from Disney’s “Robin Hood”, but all sped up just to make it even more of an ear-worm? That melody that you catch yourself whistling despite yourself even now?

hampster_dance

Even if there wasn’t a photo above, you could still see the hampsters…couldn’t you?

It was 1998, and a Canadian art student named Deidre LaCarte engaged in a friendly competition with two other young women to see who among them could generate the most traffic. (I’d assume it fair to say that LaCarte won. Hopefully she enjoyed her hockey tickets and bottles of maple syrup. (That’s currency up there, right?)) Her inspiration came from her hampster and the end result was a page filled with his likeness along with several other bobbing, animated gifs of creatures she would later dub Dixie, Hado, and Fuzzy. One might argue that it wasn’t exactly an artistic concept, but here’s the interesting part—

1998 to 1999? 800 visits. Maybe four a day if that.

Suddenly in 1999, the number of visits per day skyrocketed to an astonishing 15,000…per day! 15,000 views per day was not something a random Geocities page did! (Sleep well sweet pagehoster, btw…)

Maybe it was the catchy music. Maybe it was the origin of the internet and adorable furry animals playing well together. Maybe it was the fact that if you set a co-worker or a friend or a parent’s homepage to this looping 9-second loop of sped-up, high pitched music hilarity ensued. Maybe it was the fact that this particular facet of HampsterDance brought some mainstream televised attention to the site.

….Either way you cut it though, it was clearly magic.

I remember at least one entrancing afternoon spent watching the hammies boogie until they went out of sync. If you’d like to relive that magic, just click below:

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Grateful 365 #5 – Blank Slates (and nostalgic MMORPGs)

I play video games, but I’ve never really considered myself much of a ‘gamer’. I tend to shy away from consoles, favor rhythm and rp genres, and have been a proud member of WoW anonymous for years now.

…after spending a year or more as an officer of a raiding guild.
Y’know.
Like you do….

Wait. Wait. This is 365 grateful/100happy days isn’t it?
So screw the nerd shaming!

I was a proud, important member of Clarion Call on Skullcrusher from 2008 to 2011 in the halcyon days of the game! I helped make this:

I healed those raids. I worked for that gear. I researched specs and did math I didn’t want to for the good of the guild. We were a team. We were and are friends and it WAS an adventure! And it was a hell of a lot of fun.

Am I sad I quit?
No.
Yes.
…Sorta…

Okay, so I’m a little torn. On the one hand, I have a lot more free time, sure… but I wish I’d kept up with my friends better. Gregorin especially helped me chase that writing bug. Kracky always had my back before I even joined CC. Gallenheart & Crane were my late night conversation partners and as good at listening to whatever was on my mind as they were at being top notch tanks and healers. Man, the nostalgia is intense. Tyrantor, Garbrac, Crittin…I know there were more and I hate that I’ve forgotten.

Of the entire internet, only 9 other people remember this...

OMG do you guys remember that time Remy and Ty freaking 2-Manned Heigan after the rest of the raid wiped to the waves???
F@#$*^& EPIC!!!!

But yeah. I haven’t looked at another mmorpg since I walked away from WoW…probably BECAUSE I have such fond memories. I’ve heard I got out at a good time. I’ve heard that Cataclysm was just that.

I know nothing with any certainty though because it was so good while I was in it that I fear anything less than that cameraderie, that high level raiding, that quality of guild will disappoint me.

(This is turning into more of a review than a 365 post! Sorry!)

So what am I grateful for that I would bring all that up? What could have sparked my interest in nostalgic topics like these in the midst of my ‘recovery week’?
THIS:

Hello Neverwinter...would you like to be my friend?

Hello Neverwinter…would you like to be my friend?

Well…a blank slate. The character creation screen of a new game. A brand spanking new mmorpg with a terrifyingly, excitingly unfamiliar playstyle, HUD, and mechanics. It’s based on Dungeons and Dragons and called Neverwinter Online.

Sure the cinematic is gripping, but see that screen with the terrible flash reflection? I could make anything! Maybe a tiefling devoted cleric just to mess with the statis quo. Maybe a drow control wizard. Maybe a halfling trickster rogue!

It’s all based on 3.5 rules if I’m not mistaken, and even the customization slots encourage you to think about where your character’s been and where they’re going. If this game proves worthy enough to hold my attention, a full review will be forthcoming.

Until then, I’m grateful for the nostalgia of my beloved WoW days and the excitement and ‘fresh character’ smell a blank start page brings!

~all the love~