Horseboy revisited

Regular readers may remember my post about when, in 1995, I emailed TV2’s late-night news programme Newsnight with a poem about Horseboy, the show’s mascot hobby horse. Marcus Lush read it out on air, making it one of the first viewer emails to be shown on New Zealand television. Or something like that.

Well, recently I had a chance to view that episode. It was pretty much how I remembered it (I’m sure I had video-recorded it and watched it a few times back in the day), and now I’ve taken a few screen shots and added it to the post.

Actually, let’s just pause for some lolz. Here’s a screen shot from that same episode of the Absolut CHOGM map – when Newsnight realised that route of the motorcade security loop in Auckland for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting looked like a wonky Absolut vodka bottle:


But anyway, watching that old episode of Newsnight – and a few others from late 1995 – it was really interesting to see how they treated that crazy new “internet” thing.

In another episode, Newsnight looked at Auckland art dealers Fox Gallery who had built a website to showcase their art. The interview was filmed at the physical gallery and much of the footage was of actual art on the walls, not online. (Though there were a few crappy shots of the gallery’s website, shown on crusty old Netscape.)

At the end of the story, the URL was shown on screen for interested parties to jot down. It was – steady yourself –

Srsly. Remember when URLs used to be like that?

I just googled Fox Gallery to see if it still existed. It doesn’t seem to, but the search results brought up heaps of other Auckland galleries. These days it’s completely unremarkable for a gallery to have a website.

Now, when Fox’s 54-character URL was up on screen, Marcus Lush realised the graphic would actually need to stay up there for a while to give people a decent chance to write it down. So he ad-libbed, saying, “They say the trouble with the internet is that no one’s ever found a use for it. There’s nothing to do.”

And, yeah, that’s almost what it was like back then. There was no Trade Me, no Facebook, no Google. I’d only been online for a few months and while I was thrilled by the obvious potential of the internet, my first website will still about 8 months away and I was still trying to figure out what to do with the internet.

So now maybe the general internet has got to the stage where it’s a bit ordinary and boring; and now if you buy a handbag on Trade Me or watch an old Flaming Lips video on YouTube, people don’t think you’re a “computer whizz” and expect you to be able to fix their PC.

Though there are still corners of the internet that haven’t wiggled into the mainstream yet. For example, as ubiquitous as Twitter may seem, it’s still really hard to explain it to people who haven’t used it; who don’t get why you’d use it, just as 15 years ago they wouldn’t have understood why an art gallery would have a webpage.

But eventually they figure it out.

3 thoughts on “Horseboy revisited”

  1. I actually ended up getting an email from a guy who’d seen the item. He even fingered the email address (woteva that entailed) and was able to find out the name associated with that email address, so his email started with “Dear Robyn”.

  2. “I was still trying to figure out what to do with the internet.”

    It was about that time (’94 or ’95) that I started playing around with HTML, and the first things I did were mostly about transferring things from other media. For instance, the FOODWINE mailing list had cobbled together a table of vintages from around the world, and I added my own assessments of NZ vintages and put the whole thing on my web page. I also put up a whole bunch of my poetry reviews for the Poetry Society newsletter and attempted a bibliography of NZ poets. Back then, of course, it seemed very cool to take the whole “home page” thing literally, so the two areas were known as my “cellar” and “library” respectively, with the appropriate background textures. Oh, the cringe!

    “For example, as ubiquitous as Twitter may seem, it’s still really hard to explain it to people who haven’t used it”

    Twitter still seems far from ubiquitous to me, compared to Facebook. I’d say that at least half of my Facebook friends aren’t on Twitter, and Twitter still seems very much more popular among geeks (whoops I mean “tech-savvy early adopters”) than the general populace. As a simple test, ask someone what CSS stands for: if they say “Cascading Style Sheets” they’re probably on Twitter; if they say “Cansei de Ser Sexy” they’re probably on Facebook and/or MySpace.

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