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Index » Extras » The year is 20XX.

The year is 20XX.

And this is what a web page looks like.


Apparently due to the convoluted machinations of unguided history, after the World Wide Web was invented in this timeline, the only web browsers that caught on were terminal/command prompt style programs. Basically, evolutions of the original line-mode browser made back in 1992.

The World Wide Web is entirely unlike the glossy image-filled pages of a magazine here, style and layout simply never caught on. Instead it's a "wide-area hypermedia information retrieval initiative."

Whatever that means.

A bit about browsers

These web browsers do manage to show off a bit of color though, as you can see. Back when CSS was invented, there was this idea that people could use their own custom themes to style webpages. People who were visually impaired, for example (from seeing too many light-theme websites like me) might want a dark high-contrast theme or colors that stand out for links.

Despite the adoption of CSS, that particular idea never caught on. But here, it seems to be the norm, just with a different name. Pages can request certain colors schemes, but mostly it's set by user preference in the browser. This one I'm using has a "Navajo White" color scheme in the options I think looks neat, but the default colors are nice too.

Despite the command line look the browser does support mouse input, you can click on hyperlinks. This isn't the dark ages of computing, it's 20XX. Web pages can display pictures, but instead of streaming people will still download video and music files to their hard drives. And overall it loads much faster, I could get used to this.

The Web

The way the web impacted history is certainly different, and I don't think I understand it enough to explain. The graphic-lite version of the web had to have changed things like the dot-com bubble and the way people used GeoCities, but the terminology is different and I'm not sure how to research it. I saw a picture for some movie, and I got the impression from it that people still imagine there could be some virtual reality Internet protocol right around the corner.

You remember that? Back before the web really caught on, science fiction writers were still speculating that something else would come along to replace it, that thing being VR, or PUSH, or whatever. 3D graphics did catch on a few years later, but only for gaming, no VR Internet. What a letdown.

(Apparently, there actually was once an attempt at this.)


Yes, web browsers aren't the only thing that changed here. But I'm still learning about this place. It's difficult learning history entirely from scratch, since I often don't even know where to begin.

The geography of the United States looks the same to me, I can't spot any differences on the maps. Something weird is happening with China though, the borders are completely different. This happened sometime after 1989 I think. None of the clothes here say "Made in China."

Climate change is the same here, but somehow the whole discussion around it is completely different. Instead of people saying "global warming doesn't exist," it's "we should colonize the Arctic before the Russians get to it first." And they're building dikes as fast as they can around big costal cities. Weird.

Some of the hardware I saw

I looked at some of the computers for sale here - they are noticeably weaker, with ram capping out at 2GB. I wonder if this isn't a limitation of the technology here, but instead a result of optimization. I mean, just look at this web page.

A lot of the computers I've come across are portable, the laptops tend to be small and the tower cases are square and have handles on them like a GameCube. (They aren't purple though.) Some of the computers have keyboards built in, or detachable keyboards. The guy I'm living with told me that there was a period in the '90s where game consoles used floppy disks, like the Famicom except it actually caught on instead of switching back to cartridges.

There is some healthy competition in the electronics stores around here, I noticed computers with Sony, ASCII, Apple, and IBM branding, as well as some companies I haven't heard of. They were all running an OS I didn't recognize. Imagine something like Mac OS 9 but with more detailed mid-2000s style graphics.


I've been checking out how these browsers work. One strange thing I've encountered is that when I add the words ********* **** to a page, they don't display at all. I have no idea why, I'm still looking into this. Maybe ********* did something to deserve it, but I don't know how I'd search for it online if pages can't display it.