Listening Post: How long in internet years?

With this week’s 10th anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, there’s been a lot of focus on the spring of 2003. At my age, ten years ago seems like only yesterday–or it did until I visited a site known as the WayBack Machine, which archives older versions of almost any large website, including NCPR.

NCPR home page, March 26, 2003, somewhere between 3-5 pm. Click image for full size version.

Here’s the front page at for March 26, 2003. That’s a long time ago in internet years. It’s small, because most computer monitors at the time had a smaller display area (in pixels) than many of today’s smart phones and handheld devices. It has very few images, because more than 90% of the North Country connected via phone modem–really really slow phone modem.

But still, most of what we do now, we did then. String Fever is on the air Thursday from 3-5. And you can subscribe to the Listening Post, which was just starting its second year of weekly publication in 2003, written then as now by yours truly. Karen DeWitt was reporting on the NY state budget–late that year. And we had the top NPR news stories–war news that week. You could listen to our live stream–very low-fi so you could get it over a phone modem. And you could search the site–sort of.

Facebook and twitter didn’t exist. The word blog had just come into common parlance, a worn-down version of the older geeks-only term “weblog.” In 2003 I began using blog software as a means to archive my (then briefer) spiels in the Listening Post.

Reading what I said 10 years ago yesterday…

Floating World

I was on the way back from Burlington when the war news began to break. I had gone as Connie Meng’s sidekick to the opening of O’Carolan’s Farewell to Music at FlynnSpace. We sat in her car riding the Grand Isle Ferry through ice floes and dark water, listening to the calm voices say the terrible things. How many times in my life I’ve driven through the night, listening to war news on the radio. This war, that war, the next war… the headlights only illuminate the few yards ahead.

…it really does feel like only yesterday, no matter how many years it’s been in internet years.


6 Comments on “Listening Post: How long in internet years?”

  1. Susan miller coulter says:

    Wow. Beautiful writing. A cold chill for both the image of the frigid water and the insight into the continued horror of wars past present and presumably future b

  2. Hank says:


    I definitely remember that version of the NCPR home page (you used it for quite a few years as I recall). I’m curious as to whether that was the first iteration of the home page or was there an even earlier version?

  3. Dale says:

    Hank asked: I’m curious as to whether that was the first iteration of the home page or was there an even earlier version?

    Here’s the earliest version–two weeks after launch in 2001:
    Pretty much the same, minus live news links on the home page. I think it was 2005 when we sized up the same design for an 800 pixel display (from the original 640 pixel). It wasn’t until 2008 that we started a more modern design without a contained page bottom.

  4. Robin McClellan says:

    I saw a cartoon about 10 years ago of two kids playing in a sandbox. One said, “My dad said that when he was young, people drank water right out of the tap.”

    In the next frame he adds, “But he tends to exaggerate.”

    I suppose we could say that we used to be tied to the wall when we made phone calls…but how would you explain a party line? I suppose a chat room might do for a start.

    Got to go, there are kids on my lawn that need yelling at.

  5. Laurie says:

    Yeah, man – I remember those dial-up days all too well (though HughesNet days are really not that much better!)

    The last words of Floating World made me wish I could post a picture of my grandson dressed in a Civil War uniform: He seems to evoke the innocence of a child playing dress-up, yet the picture haunts me for the truth of loss somehow apparent in his eyes.

    I know I’m off topic, but it’d be nice to be able to post photos here (within reason, of course).

  6. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    Interesting link, Dale. Who ever thought we would be reminiscing about the internet?

    I used the Wayback Machine to look up my own business website and found the first crawl of it in December 2000. I don’t remember when we first came on-line with it but I remember the issues we dealt with when planning the site. Originally we were planning on printing a brochure (!) but realized that the cost of printing a glossy brochure with lots of pictures would be high and printed material becomes dated very quickly. So we went to a friend who had been doing websites. At the time it was just her and maybe two employees. They put together a very nice site that on looking back at it holds up pretty well.

    The issues we worried about: We wanted to have lots of photos but also wanted the site to load quickly on dial-up. At the time I think 56k was considered fast by most people. At 14.4 you had lots of time to dream about a 56k connection. The other big issue for us was to dissuade window shoppers because at the time most people thought of the internet as a way to get everything cheaper and we wanted to discourage cheapskates.

    Our webdesigner did a great job for us and we paid for the site mostly in trade. Today she runs a business with many employees – I’m just guessing, maybe 20. She lives either just within or just outside the Blue Line and she started the business in her home as a way to earn extra money as a stay-at-home mom. Obviously her business moved out of her house years ago and she rents commercial offices. A few years ago her husband quit his job and went to work for her. I think it is a good example of a bright, hard working person who saw an opportunity and made something happen. The internet has provided a world of opportunity to anyone with a connection.

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