A brief history of Tumblr, which defined the best of Internet culture for a few years and is now a walking anachronism

Tumblr’s CEO quietly stepped down at the end of January, after presiding over several bad decisions—banning porn, and making the site more algorithmic, and therefore less its own character and more like all the other social media platforms.

Kaitlyn Tiffany on The Atlantic:

Tumblr, launched 15 years ago this month, once had a reputation that was as big and confusing as that of Texas or Taylor Swift: It wasn’t just a blogging platform, but a staging ground for an array of political movements, the birthplace of all manner of digital aesthetics, and the site of freaky in-groups, niche conspiracy theories, community meltdowns, and one very famous grave-robbing scandal. At various points during the platform’s reign of online influence—from roughly 2010 to 2015—the phrase Tumblr user served as a proud identity marker, or something like a slur. Today, it’s an archaism.

Remembering Global Network Navigator (GNN)

This morning I was reminded about Global Network Navigator and thought about that for the first time in many years, and so I went down a brief rabbit hole reminding myself what that was about.

Global Network Navigator was the first commercial web publication and the first web site to offer clickable advertisements, launched in May 1993 by O’Reilly & Associates. It was an example of a Web portal, which became a big deal later in the 90s, with Yahoo being the most successful. Web portals aggregated news, weather, sports, email, and other useful resources on a single web page, in a pre-Google era when search engines were terrible.

GNN on Wikipedia: “Potential readers [of GNN] were advised that they would need ‘an Internet connection, a World Wide Web (WWW) browser and a universal resource locator for GNN or a local copy of the GNN ‘home page’ (which is available via electronic mail).'”

Web portals on Wikipedia

GNN, archived

AOL bought GNN in 1995 and closed it in 1996.

Here’s a history of GNN, optimized for Internet Explorer so good luck with that. I couldn’t get it to work: