A Few Exits Back on the Information Superhighway
January 16, 2014 | by Dan Piepenbring
Thanks to the unflagging efforts of Archive.org’s Wayback Machine—which has had, since 1996, the unenviable task of preserving as much of the Internet as possible—we recently exhumed the original version of our Web site. Better still, we rediscovered these two videos of our late founding editor, George Plimpton. In the grainy, hypercompressed format that marked mankind’s earliest forays into digital recording, he helpfully explains where you are and what you might do here.
These were the days of 28.8k modems, of CompuServe and Netscape, when the word multimedia carried a frisson of ultramodern potential. As you watch, you can practically hear the bleat and drone of the dial-up connection. That’s technology, baby. These videos are not high definition. They are virtual fossils. Handle them with care.
What with Moore’s Law and all, designs that should feel merely outdated are already full-on quaint. More than anything, our old site reminds us that the Internet was once more literally construed as a location, with “sites” portraying themselves as places for weary travelers to rest their heads:
The Internet is frontier territory for us, and we’re excited about being here. For those of you who know The Paris Review, this electronic forum should offer some new and, we hope, interesting ways to interact with the magazine. For those of you meeting us for the first time, please accept our invitation to browse around … Come to our “offices” as often as you like. We’ll try to keep things fresh.
It’s difficult to conceive of this site as an office today, or even as an “office.” We are, however, still dedicated to keeping things fresh here—wherever here may be.