Internet Silverback

Image linked from msnbc article, click for reference.
Image linked from msnbc article, click for reference.

I just received an email from an old friend calling me one of the ”Internet Silverbacks” that he knows. I felt quite flattered and I started thinking about what kind of feelings that epithet set off inside me and I kind of like the label and I will actively start using it.

Of course the name is a comparison with the Silverback Gorillas of the jungles of Rwanda and similar places in Africa. I have heard people being called that before on the net, always with affection and always about someone who has been around for a while. I have had my domain up for more than eight years and when I started it the web was certainly different from now but even before I had that I had a home page (it’s defunct but some remains are still to be seen there) located at one of the really early swedish ISPs called Algonet. This ISP was later bought by Telenor who kept it running much as business as usual and then Glocalnet took over and they did not have the competence it seems to keep it running properly. These days most of the services of the online shell accounts you could get there are broken and with no fix in sight.

Used to spend lots of money on my 14k4 and later 56k modem dialing up their modem pool and the monthly fee was pretty high for someone then back in the early nineties. The web wasn’t really around yet, but there were other things such as Usenet news (kind of like forums but all text based and much sleeker designed than any web based fora you see today) and IRC for chatting with people in real time all over the word. IRC is still going strong but it’s not widely known and used mainly amongst geeks, oldtimers and people controlling botnets unfortunately.

I remember Gopher. That’s a precursor to the web, only text based and used port 70 instead of port 80 that the http protocol used for the web is defaulting to. Before gohpher there were several off-line hypertext file systems such as AmigaInfo that could be used to make ”pages” and then transmit them using UUCP (Unixt to Unix Copy Program).

I used to run a Fidonet enabled BBS back in the days when Internet was only for people on universities and really large corporations, I had two modem lines and the fido address was 2:205/309 it was located in the south end of Dalarna here in Sweden. We had great fun then, started a computer club called MoosE-NET and played lots of games, did some serious hacking, played poker and went hiking together in the strange areas around Ludvika…

I guess I might be an Internet Silverback or just very nostalgic or both.

Here is my humoristic definition of an Internet Silverback

  • Knew the Internet before the web and regarded the www with suspiction as a great bandwidh hog.
  • Can hand-craft old style HTML from the earliest versions and remember when every home page out there had animated gif pictures of hampsters or something equally ridiculous. Just because it was possible.
  • Used Netscape with the built-in editor.
  • Has been a channel admin of some channel in IRC and knows what the ”big split” in the IRC was.
  • Remembers when Iceland ran their full Internet transmission over two 9600 baud modems to Scotland and Norway.
  • Remembers when the RIP protocol was widely used all the way down to the endpoints and that you could set up your own machine to listen to it and find out about the best route to Australia  on the net.
  • Remember the spat between Linus Torvalds and Andrew Tanenbaum
  • Used to write own tools in both sh and C just to get things done
  • Have at least a rudimentary understanding of Lisp and an appreciation of its beauty