Remembering our favorite cozy networks

For some of us who grew up in the world website, the idea of ​​a private The internet did not come into focus until entering a college campus or workplace. But intranets are some of the best places to be: often isolated zones from the endless chaos of the Internet at large where people can manage (or deliberately No manage) things to meet the needs of a particular community.

As Ethernet turns 50, we look back on some of our favorite memories of places where networks were more intimate and practical. And we’d love for you to join us in sharing your own networking memories in the comments, whether it’s taking your hardware to LAN parties or building your own first home network.

Please share your own memories with us in the comments.

For me, that first experience was at a small liberal arts college in the early 2000s. Despite being a fairly small campus, it had a great high-speed network, better than anything I’d ever had in my entire life. , having grown primarily with 56K from AOL and CompuServe. (I mainly used it for gaming everquest.)

Beyond the blazing speeds on campus, the real prize turned out to be a private network that filtered out general Internet noise. The entire student body seemed involved in a project to accumulate content on the campus-wide shared file system. Everything seemed unmoderated, except for the changes that (anyone) could make to the organization and content of the server.

Long before Facebook came to town and painted it blue, the file sharing system gave us a way to build our own culture and develop a shared language around naming and organizing files. There was never any governing authority on this, just people who seemed to band together to build an underground library. And hardly anyone dared pollute the directory with an unpruned filename from the depths of torrent hell. Was our dragon treasure.

Campus IT services eventually shut down this scheme, but for one brilliant moment in time, it was one of the best connected experiences I’ve ever had. A space based on meaningful local relationships, uncontaminated by the machinations of a broader global Internet. — TC Sottek, executive editor

I went to college in the late 2000s and worked in my school’s IT help desk, the natural home of nerds who tried to find a movie for movie night like smuggling blue jeans over the Wall. of Berlin. My devotion was less to any tool than to a word-of-mouth system that could steer you toward free access to almost any medium ever created by human hands. The file quality was often appalling. The thrill was in the chase.

I had grown up with folders of burned CDs from friends, and sharing files felt like an extension of the sudden and incredible access to information that college had given me. Much of my media diet at the time was legally drawn from my school’s vast and arcane network of libraries, where you could find anything from little-known wuxia movies to 1960s pulp novels. music from the DC++ network on campus, my comic book scans from some private BitTorrent tracker my boyfriend invited me to, or my blockbuster movies from a friend who subscribed to Netflix pre-streaming so she could endlessly order DVDs and rip them to a hard drive. That wasn’t even intranet. Was sneaker net.

There are a lot of legal and moral issues here, but there was a real sense of community in these collective efforts to seek and share knowledge. It was a mirror image of all the other casual connections that were easy to form in college—long nights of walking between parties of near-strangers, instant bonding with roommates—and increasingly difficult in the years that followed. Sure, I can watch a movie in seconds on Netflix… but it’s not half as satisfying as telling my housemates I caught a newly aired movie. Battlestar Galactica EZTV episode. — Adi Robertson, senior technology and policy editor

I grew up quite sheltered. In high school, I had two reliable ways to access the Internet: the city library or my parents’ desktop computer with 56K dial-up, and a program that would take a screenshot every two minutes and send it to my parents. parents (I am the eldest in a very large family). So when I connected my new Dell desktop to the T1 connection in my bedroom in 2003, it was a revelation.

It was a communications dorm, which meant I went from a very sheltered upbringing to sharing physical space and a local area network with 100 film, TV, theater, and communications nerds. I could continue the music I discovered in my roommates’ shared iTunes libraries or the hours of my life that I immersed myself in a text-based “society sim” that inexplicably still exists more than 20 years later. But my favorite LAN stick from that bedroom technically didn’t involve the network at all.

The dorm downstairs had three projector rooms and a big screen TV, all within a scream of each other. Twice a week, we would hook up four Xboxes for 16 players. aura matches. I don’t remember why we couldn’t use the bedroom LAN for this, but instead we ran long ethernet cables from each Xbox to a network switch in the hallway.

When halo 2 came out the following year, much of the team had moved to their own places. they kept playing aura together for years on Xbox Live, but for me, the vibe was never quite the same as when we all had to be in the same place, yelling at each other in the hallway when someone was gunned down from across the map or squashed. by a Ghost in Blood Gulch. — Nathan Edwards, Senior Reviews Editor

Dorm life had its advantages. Meals were minutes away, already prepared and paid for. Roommates were funny sometimes! But for me, the best part might have been the ethernet jack in the middle of the wall. I came to learn that what it looked like a rudimentary Internet connection was actually part of a large intranet that spanned the entire campus: each dormitory was part of a giant LAN. And one day, someone invited me to join the DC++ server… which turned out to be a treasure chest with an integrated chat system.

Back in the days when Netflix was exclusively a DVD-by-mail company and consumer internet speeds were still measured in kilobytes per second, never before had I imagined having access to so much content, let alone for free. And the speeds, oh the speeds: you’d have a song downloaded to your computer a moment after clicking on it.

Although it was another time. While the RIAA and MPAA were fighting hard against piracy, there was a strong feeling at the university that the giants lose, that they were wrong and that file sharing was appropriate and right. Everyone was doing it, so wouldn’t it become the new norm? I remember walking into the dorm cafeteria one day and seeing posted warnings that file sharers would be fined and prosecuted, but I never gave it a serious thought. In fact, one of my first stories on the internet was a file sharing guide i wrote for cablingwhich basically encouraged people to build their own dark networks and take advantage of these services.

To satisfy publishers, I had to disclose that it wasn’t clear what types of files are legal to share and provide some additional reading to help readers make their own decisions. I warned him: “We recommend that you consult your university’s ‘acceptable use policy’ and similar documents to determine their position on file sharing before engaging in potentially illegal activity, or at least make sure you save $3,000, the current rate, in case you get caught.” — Sean Hollister, Senior Editor

As a traveling student, I never lived the dorm life. But during those days, my family’s home became a small LAN once my older brother installed a second PC in front of the one we had. This kickstarted years of side-by-side cooperative and parallel gaming that immersed me deeply in games like the classic. counterattack and devil 2 (and his expansive Median XL mod). Sure, the ethernet wiring we installed and ran along a ceiling joist was pretty ugly (sorry mom!), but it meant I rarely had to wait my turn to browse sites, chat with friends on AIM or play. It was liberating to be able to share files back and forth, and thanks to our powers (and computers) combined, we amassed a huge catalog of mp3s of all the punk and hardcore bands we liked and keep discovering.

This also set the table for a signing from our family home, hosting Halo LAN parties of up to four Xboxes and 16 players. First we start to do aura parties at a friend’s house with eight players Halo: Combat Evolved on two original Xbox consoles, and it was a transformative experience. I always remember that amazing first night, staying up past 6am, fueled by gallons of Mountain Dew, multiple White Castle Crave Cases, and the sheer joy of this new experience. As we slowly expanded to more Xboxes and more players, the place moved into my family’s house and stayed there for years and subsequent Halo releases, all the time. halo reach. From time to time we try other games along the way, like the original. Star Wars: Battlefront IIbut few had a System Link mode as robust and solid as Bungie’s epic series.

Our small home network made expansion easy, capable of hosting four connected Xbox or Xbox 360 consoles overnight, with our small cabling infrastructure setting the stage. We ran ethernet cables from 10 to 50 feet long, casually (and dangerously) running across the floor, up the stairs and into the bedrooms and living room, even sometimes entangling the kitchen or dining room. Where there was a TV, it was used, and where a TV could be installed, one was placed for the night with a console, a cable and as many as four weirdos in front of it.

I’m sure the story of many other people with LAN parties and aura parties, in particular, sound very similar (I’d love to hear yours, too, by the way). For me, these are some of my fondest memories of the salad days of my youth, and it was partly because it brought together such a diverse extended network of people, many of whom remain close even many years later.

It’s kind of quaint how those simple ethernet cables strewn around our family’s home were our windows to the big world via the Internet, and yet the in-person connections they laid the foundation for are still some of the strongest in life. our lives. I still have a lot of those long ethernet runs, rolled up in drawers, and while the System Link game is a relic of the past, it’s nostalgic to think of dipping back into some original Xbox-era split-screen LAN gaming. I heard it still holds up. — Antonio G. Di Benedetto, trade and business writer


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