We’ve come up with a list of stuff which we reckon will define 2011 in terms of dreadful internet experiences.
1) Animated .gifs
We thought they’d have died out by now, but we’re still coming across websites featuring animated .gifs as a primary part of their navigation structure. It’s very rare to see a gently rotating Jesus or some sort of flaming skull, even on websites written and designed by nutters. But lurking at the bottom of leather furniture websites far and wide lies the spinning “@” symbol or the sequence of a letter being folded up, inserted into an envelope, and then circumnavigating the globe. We hope 2011 will be the last year we have to content with this visual affront.
2) Rebecca Black
One of the most offensive things to happen this year was the Rebecca Black debacle. It featured a hapless thirteen year old girl being thrown to the internet by her well-meaning parents and an incompetent yet brilliant music video production company. The song wasn’t offensive in its own right, it was just very bad. It certainly had more charm than Rihanna’s whingeing and made more sense than Far East Movement’s Like a G6, but what followed was a demonstration of the internet’s unforgiving response to failure.
It makes sense. To prevent robots from signing up to websites by themselves, a test of humanity needs to be in place. You just look at the squiggles, try to make out the word and type it into the box below. Simple? Until you stumble across a Captcha written in Hebrew. Sure you can press reload and try another one, but by that stage the page has reloaded and you need to type in all your details again. This is enough to make you ragequit the website you’re visiting, but it isn’t the end of the world and Captcha’s position in this list reflects that. We should be grateful in a way – these pesky nonsensical words are all that prevent any future robotic overlords from opening IMDB accounts or spamming imageboards.
4) IP v6 upgrade
The internet was going to run out of addresses this year. The IP system which forms the proper address system below the user-friendly DNS system, was scheduled to run dry at the end of 2011. It’s successor? The IP v6 model, which has replaced nice simple-to-remember IP addresses like 127.0.0.0 with horrendously complex monstrosities like
2001:0db8:85a3:0000:0000:8a2e:0370:7334. This is for the betterment of the internet and is here to stay, but combined with the inevitable glitches resultant from the changeover, we’re sure people will look back on IP v4 with at least a degree of nostalgic whimsy.
5) User-generated content on otherwise respectable networks
It’s important to engage your users, but it’s fairly well known that any website encouraging user contributions will be plagued with ridiculousness and awful opinions from the get-go. Fiercely nationalistic views are present at the bottom of balanced and fair articles, while the comments sections of YouTube videos are a maelstrom of dreadful human beings being rude to each other. Yahoo Answers – where knowledge goes to die – is probably the worst offender in terms of excruciating snapshots of other people’s lives, with thousands of poorly-spelled pleas for attention being shovelled onto the internet every day.
6) Facebook chat
Instant messaging was going quite well until Facebook decided to have a go. We’d been using MSN without incident for about a decade, and although it required another programme to be open normally, it could operate in-browser via a lot of school filter resistant websites. Now, though, Facebook has produced an unreliable instant messenger which appears at the bottom of your Facebook page and allows you to almost talk to any of your friends who are online. It’s a good idea on paper but never manifested itself in a way which could ever be used. Its relentless crashing would be bad by itself, but it also delivers messages in the wrong order or not at all.
7) Off-the-mark news reporting
It happens all over the world. “NERDGEEK TEEN HACKS MAINFRAMES” or “INNOCENT VIRGIN DEFILED BY FREAKS ON SICK UNDERGROUND CYBERSITE”. The conservative media has a tendency to misunderstand or overplay the threats from online harassment, usually to the detriment of the online communities they’re criticising. This probably has a lot to do with the generational discrepancies between the people making the news and the people writing about it, but with the recent arrests of individuals involved with online vandalism and the growing threat of “cyber warfare”, we’re sure to encounter some more media gems along the lines of this one: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2008230/Hacking-suspect-Ryan-Cleary-great-power-internet.html
8) Top tens
Every blog loves top tens. Whether it’s down to lazy writers or the assumption that internet users are somewhat hard-of-thinking, condensing every blog post into an arbitrary sliding scale of ten examples rarely results from any decent index. It’s based on prejudice and conjecture and while the blogosphere is never going to be a completely factually level place, there can be no excuse for this current fashion for ‘top ten’ this and ‘five most amazing’ thats.
And heck, Top Eights are way better.