Our Favorite Community Networks – Acutely.info

For some of us who grew up on the worldwide web, the idea of ​​a private the internet didn’t come into the picture until you entered a college campus or workplace. But intranets are some of the best places to be — zones that are often cut off from the endless chaos of the wider internet where people create their own (or intentionally not managing) things to meet the needs of a particular community.

As Ethernet turns 50 years old, we’re looking back at some of our favorite memories of places where networking was more intimate and practical. And we’d love for you to join us in sharing your own networking memories in the comments, whether lugging your hardware to LAN parties or building your own first network at home.

Please share your own memories with us in the comments

For me, that first experience was in the early 2000s at a small liberal arts college. Despite being a fairly small campus, it had a terrifically fast network – better than anything I’d had in my entire life, largely growing up on 56K from AOL and CompuServe. (I used it mostly to play EverQuest.)

Aside from the shocking campus speeds, the real prize turned out to be a private network that filtered out the noise of the wider internet. The entire student body seemed involved in a project to collect content on the shared campus-wide file system. Everything seemed unmoderated, except for the changes that (anyone) could make to the organization and content of the server.

Long before Facebook came into town and painted it blue, the shared file system gave us a way to build our own culture and develop a shared language around naming and organizing files. There was never any ruling authority here – just people who seemed to come together to build an underground library. And hardly anyone dared to pollute the directory with an unpruned filename from the depths of torrent hell. It was us dragon treasure.

Campus IT services eventually discontinued this schedule, but for a brilliant moment in time, it was one of the best connected experiences I’ve ever had. A space based on meaningful local relationships, untouched by the machinations of a wider global internet. — TC Sottek, editor-in-chief

I went to college towards the end of the ’00s piracy wars, and I worked at my school’s IT help desk, the natural home of nerds who treated finding a movie for movie night like smuggling a pair of jeans about the Berlin Wall. My dedication was not so much to any particular tool as to a word-of-mouth marketing system that could lead you to free access to nearly all media ever created by human hands. The file quality was often atrocious. The tension was in the chase.

I’d grown up with folders of friends’ burned CDs, and sharing files felt like an extension of the sudden, incredible access to information college had given me. Much of my media diet at the time was legally sourced from my school’s vast and secretive library network, where you could dig up everything from little-known wuxia movies to 1960s pulp novels. It felt natural that I also had my music from the campus DC++ network, my comic scans from a private BitTorrent tracker my friend had been invited to, or my blockbuster movies from a friend who subscribed to pre-streaming Netflix so he could order DVDs non-stop and rip them to a hard drive. That wasn’t even intranet. It was sneaker net.

There are some legal and moral questions here, but there was a real sense of community in these collective efforts to discover and share knowledge. It mirrored all the other casual hookups that were easy to make in college—long nights between near-stranger parties, instant connections with roommates—and became increasingly difficult in the years that followed. Sure, I can put a movie on Netflix in seconds… but it’s not half as satisfying as telling my roommates that I’ve just aired a Battlestar Galactica episode of EZTV. — Adi Robertson, senior editor of technology and policy

I grew up quite sheltered. In high school, I had two reliable ways to access the Internet: the city library or my parents’ desktop computer with a 56K dial-up connection, and a program that took a screenshot every few minutes and sent it to my parents (I’m the oldest of a family). very large family). So in 2003 when I connected my new Dell desktop to the T1 socket in my dorm room, it was a revelation.

It was a communications dorm, which meant I went from a very sheltered upbringing to sharing physical space and a local network with 100 film, TV, theater, and communications nerds. I could go on and on about the music I discovered in my students’ shared iTunes libraries or the hours of my life I lost in a text-based “society simulator” that inexplicably still exists more than 20 years later. But my favorite LAN memory from that frat house wasn’t technically related to the network at all.

The ground floor of the dorm had three projector rooms and a big screen TV, all within shouting distance of each other. Twice a week we would hook up four Xboxes for 16 players Halo matches. I can’t remember why we couldn’t use the dorm’s LAN for this, but instead we ran long ethernet cables from each Xbox to a network switch in the hallway.

When Halo 2 came out the following year, much of the crew had moved to their own place. They kept playing Halo together over Xbox Live for years, but for me the vibe was never the same as when we all had to be in the same place, yelling at each other in the hallway when someone from the other side of the map was shot with a gun or by a Ghost in Blood Gulch. — Nathan Edwards, editor-in-chief of reviews

Life in a dormitory had its advantages. Meals were minutes away, already prepared and paid for. Roommates were fun sometimes! But for me, perhaps the best part was the ethernet connection halfway up the wall. I came to learn that what it looked like a rudimentary internet connection was actually part of a huge intranet that spanned the entire campus – each dorm was part of a giant LAN. And one day someone invited me to join the DC++ server… which turned out to be a treasure chest with an integrated chat system.

Back in the days when Netflix was solely a DVD-by-mail company and internet speeds for consumers were still largely measured in kilobytes per second, I never imagined I’d be able to access so much content, let alone for free. And the speeds, oh the speeds – you would have downloaded a song to your computer a moment after clicking it.

It was a different era though. While the RIAA and MPAA cracked down on piracy, there was a strong sense in college that the juggernauts to lose, that they were wrong and that file sharing was appropriate and right. Everyone was doing it, so wouldn’t it become the new normal? I remember walking into the dormitory cafeteria one day and seeing warnings that file sharers would be fined and prosecuted, but I never gave it any serious thought. In fact, one of my first stories on the internet was a file sharing guide I wrote for Wiredwhich basically encouraged people to build their own darknets and take advantage of these services.

To satisfy the editors, I had to disclose that it was not clear what types of files are legal to share and provide some additional reading material to help readers form their own opinions. I warned: “we recommend that you check your university’s ‘acceptable use policy’ and similar documents to determine their stance on file sharing before engaging in potentially illegal activities, or at least make sure that you save three thousand dollars, the going rate, in case you get caught.” — Sean Hollister, editor in chief

As a commuter student, I never lived the college life. But at that time my childhood home became a small LAN when my older brother installed a second PC across from our existing one. This set in motion years of side-by-side co-op and parallel gaming, which took me deep into games like classic Counterattack And Diablo 2 (and his extensive Median XL mod). Sure, the Ethernet wiring we’d laid running along a ceiling joist was quite an eyesore (sorry, Mom!), but it meant I rarely had to wait my turn to view sites, chat with friends on AIM. chat or play games. It was liberating to be able to share files back and forth, and through our powers – and computers – combined, we’ve amassed a large catalog of MP3s from all the punk and hardcore bands we liked and were still discovering.

This also set the table for a signature from our childhood home, which hosts Halo LAN parties for up to four Xboxes and 16 players. We went first Halo parties at a friend’s house with eight players Halo: Combat Evolved on two original Xbox consoles, and it’s been a transformative experience. I always remember that amazing first night, staying up past 6am fueled by gallons of Mountain Dew, multiple Crave Cases of White Castle and the sheer joy of this new experience. As we slowly expanded to more Xboxes and more players, the location moved to my childhood home and stayed there for years and subsequent Halo releases – all the way through Halo: range. Along the way, we occasionally tried other games like the original Star Wars: Battlefront IIfew had as robust and rock solid a System Link mode as Bungie’s epic series.

Our small home network made for easy expansion, able to accommodate four connected Xbox or Xbox 360 consoles for a night, with our little piece of cabling infrastructure setting the table. We’ve run Ethernet cables from 10 to 50 feet long just casually (and precariously) across the floor, up stairs, and into bedrooms and the living room – sometimes even into the kitchen or dining room. Where there was a TV it was used, and where a TV could be set up one was set up for the evening with a console, cable and as many as four lunatics in front of it.

I’m sure many other people’s history with LAN parties and Halo Parties in particular sound very similar (I’d love to hear yours too, by the way). To me, they are some of my fondest memories of the salad days of my childhood, and that was partly because it brought together a very diverse vast network of people – many of whom remain close even many years later.

It’s rather curious how those simple Ethernet cables scattered around our childhood home were our windows to the larger world via the Internet, and yet the personal connections they laid the foundation for remain some of the strongest in our lives. I still have many of those long runs of ethernet rolled up in drawers, and while System Link play is a relic of the past, it’s nostalgic to think back to diving into original LAN split-screen games from the Xbox One. era. I hear it’s still holding up. — Antonio G. Di Benedetto, trade and deals writer

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