The early internet kept showing us the future, and we rolled our eyes every time

In Tales of the Early Internet, Mashable explores online life through 2007 — back before social media and the smartphone changed everything.


“The future is here, it’s just unevenly distributed,” William Gibson famously wrote in 2003. With the benefit of 2020 hindsight, we can add this about the era he was describing: the future was also unevenly believed. Even when it was right in front of us, we couldn’t see it through our assumptions. This was especially true of the things we were most passionate about. 

Everyone who was extremely online back in the late 1990s and early 2000s lost themselves to some new obsession when we got our first high-speed internet connection at home. Often it was an obsession that seemed somewhat illicit at the time, and utterly quaint now. For me, as for millions, that obsession was music — and acquiring it on Napster. 

This was spring of 2000; dotcom mania was in full swing, and I’d just moved to San Francisco to cover it for Time magazine. The moment Pacific Bell hooked up my first DSL line, I couldn’t resist downloading the bad boy of music sharing — we’d just put Napster on the cover — and soon saw what the fuss was about. More than 30 million people freely sharing music collections on the same server: This was something new in the world. It was the first cultural bazaar where everything was available, instant and free. One night I asked my visiting British dad to name a tune it might not have. 

“‘My Old Man’s a Dustman’ by Lonnie Donegan,” he replied gruffly, almost like he regretted making the challenge too hard. He scoffed at the likelihood of finding it. Ping! Donegan downloaded 30 seconds later. 

WATCH: Revisiting the website that shaped the internet

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While I

Five Eyes governments, India, and Japan make new call for encryption backdoors

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Five Eyes cyber panel at CYBERUK 19


Image: ZDNet/CBSi

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Members of the intelligence-sharing alliance Five Eyes, along with government representatives for Japan and India, have published a statement over the weekend calling on tech companies to come up with a solution for law enforcement to access end-to-end encrypted communications.

The statement is the alliance’s latest effort to get tech companies to agree to encryption backdoors.

The Five Eyes alliance, comprised of the US, the UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, have made similar calls to tech giants in 2018 and 2019, respectively.

Just like before, government officials claim tech companies have put themselves in a corner by incorporating end-to-end encryption (E2EE) into their products.

If properly implemented, E2EE lets users have secure conversations — may them be chat, audio, or video — without sharing the encryption key with the tech companies.

Representatives from the seven governments argue that the way E2EE encryption is currently supported on today’s major tech platforms prohibits law enforcement from investigating crime rings, but also the tech platforms themselves from enforcing their own terms of service.

Signatories argue that “particular implementations of encryption technology” are currently posing challenges to law enforcement investigations, as the tech platforms themselves can’t access some communications and provide needed data to investigators.

This, in turn, allows a safe haven for criminal activity and puts the safety of “highly vulnerable members of our societies like sexually exploited children” in danger, officials argued.

“We call on technology companies to work with governments to take the following steps, focused on reasonable, technically feasible solutions,” the

Will This Be the Last French Open With Only Human Eyes Minding the Lines?

“It is not a 3-D re-creation; we give the real image,” Simon said. “We see the surface of the court how it is, even if it has moved or just moved.”

This year, the U.S. Open became the first Grand Slam event to use almost exclusively electronic line calling, eliminating line umpires on all but two of its courts. Initial feedback was positive, according to Stacey Allaster, the tournament director, but the U.S. Open has yet to commit to using the same system in 2021.

Electronic line judging would most likely eliminate one current issue: umpires examining the wrong ball mark on the clay, which is a frequent source of tension with players. But if there is a switch to electronic calls, players will still be able to see the mark on clay, and it will not always match what technology records.

“The ball mark can be larger or smaller than the true contact area depending on the amount of clay, humidity of clay, speed of the ball, direction of travel, etc.,” said Stuart Miller, executive director of the science and technical department at the International Tennis Federation.

In other words, players who now argue that the Hawk-Eye image supports them could someday be insisting that the mark proves their point instead. Whatever it takes to win any given point.

“I know you have an issue at the moment, but you’ll have an issue the other way as well,” Cahill said.

“We have a system on clay we have used forever,” he said, adding that chair umpires deserve some credit. “They’ve been doing their jobs for the last 100 years, so I think on clay the system we have at the moment is a pretty good system. If we can better it, I have no problem with that, but you

Gaming Giant Roblox Preparing To Go Public Early 2021, Eyes $8 Billion Valuation: Report

KEY POINTS

  • Roblox is currently valued at $4 billion
  • It raised $150 million in series G funding in February
  • Roblox has more than 100 million monthly active users 

Gaming platform Roblox is getting ready to go public on the U.S. stock market early next  year, a move which may double its current valuation of $4 billion, Reuters reported.

The gaming company is in talks with investment banks to gauge whether it should debut on the market through a conventional initial public offering (IPO) or a direct listing, the report quoted sources as saying on the condition of anonymity. The company declined to comment to Reuters.

In an IPO, shares are created, underwritten an sold to the public, while in a direct listing, outstanding shares are sold with no underwriters involved. This is a rare method, which does not dilute the ownership of existing stakeholders.

This week, software maker Asana (NYSE: ASAN)and big data firm Palantir (NYSE: PLTR) became only the third and fourth companies, respectively, to opt for a direct listing on the New York Stock Exchange.

Roblox, based in California and founded in 2004, offers games on all mobile devices and gaming consoles. Its most famous games include Jailbreak and Meepcity. The company boasts of about 100 million global active users on its platform, with user engagement hours crossing 3 billion. Founder and CEO Dabid Baszucki said in an interview, “It is all about allowing the content to take center stage.”

In February, Robox raised $150 million in Series G funding at a valuation of $4 billion, led by venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz.

A very well-received market debut was another gaming platform, Unity Software, maker of hit games like Pokemon Go. Its shares have risen 60% since it went public on Sept. 18.

Video gaming is a lucrative

Ford new CEO Farley eyes software, tech stack as differentiator vs. rivals

New Ford CEO Jim Farley’s plan for the automaker includes a heavy dose of software and services for its commercial vehicle business as well as new consumer experiences to drive loyalty.

Ford, which is in the middle of a turnaround of its core business, is trying to navigate a shift to electric vehicles, autonomous vehicles as well as an industry that is increasingly more about software. Farley takes over for Jim Hackett, who streamlined the automaker over the last three years. 

Farley outlined a series of leadership changes and a plan that includes “expanding its commercial vehicle business with a suite of software services that drive loyalty and recurring revenue streams” and “unleashing technology and software in ways that set Ford apart from competitors.”

In addition, Ford is looking to develop connected vehicles and create new businesses from the Argo AI self-driving system.

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Ford is also looking for a new CIO as Jeff Lemmer is retiring Jan. 1. His successor will lead Ford’s technology and software platform.

The tech strategy from Farley lands after a Sept. 16 investor presentation by Kenneth Washington CTO. Washington outlined the connectivity required from smart vehicles in the future that will include 5G, satellites and edge, cloud, and fog computing.

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Washington said the plan is to build out a tech stack that’s future proof.

Our tech stack is designed to accelerate the development and delivery of differentiated customer experiences. And this includes both our retail and our commercial vehicles. We’re designing this tech stack to be future-proof, to connect the vehicle to the smart world around it. It’s going to be able to evolve and continuously integrate into the smart world and