Back in 1995, when I was an up-and-coming writer for The Tennessean, I pitched the idea of spending 12-straight hours searching the world wide web. My editors loved it, so I hunkered down before my desktop computer, opened up the first of a dozen sodas and surfed. I went here and there and there and here, then turned around and wrote a 1,200 word piece on the experience.
I actually really enjoyed the whole process, and felt surprisingly wonderful about the submitted story. Then, a letter from a reader:
MORON: AOL CHAT ROOMS ARE JUST A PART OF THE INTERNET. THEY’RE NOT THE INTERNET. GET YOUR SHIT CORRECT.
I probably hid the note from my bosses, but Craig was right. In 1995, the Internet was this foreign thing that you dialed into. We thought we understood, but, truly, we had no idea. I had devoted 12-straight hours to jumping from one AOL chat room to another. That was the limit of my “night on the ‘web.”
Looking back, I feel like a complete fool. And the story sucks. Here you go …