“This is my new internet, I’m done with the old one,” Andy Baio wrote Thursday night. Baio has been blogging forever, helped build Kickstarter, and co-founded the XOXO festival. If you’re looking for your “new internet,” he’s someone to pay attention to. And his is a fascinating, retro-styled video simulcasting site called 1080plus. It’s basically a YouTube you can watch with your friends, but with an aesthetic straight out of the mid-’90s. Turns out your new internet is refreshingly old internet.
1080plus was built by a Canadian developer named Michael, who envisioned it as “a project to make a multiplayer theater experience where you could join friends in a virtual world / virtual theater staring at the same virtual silver screen together, and talking about it as it plays.”
And it is that, but, like any piece of software, the users will decide what it’s really for. Some use it like Baio does, to host online video-viewing parties and play VJ, but most are just using it like a more fun hipster version of YouTube.
“I must say that the website has two main audiences,” Michael wrote. “One audience uses many features like simulcasting and chat, while many thousands of other users just come to the 1080plus website to quickly watch a video, read a few comments and leave again.”
Either way is fine, honestly. Web design in 2016 has become flat and boring — to the point that it’s even starting to hinder usability — and it’s understandable that we’d yearn for the more earnest, enthusiastic visual sensibilities of the wide-eyed days of Windows 95 and GeoCities. Back then, computers seemed cool, not like an obligatory part of the furniture. A gaudy, cyberpunk “control panel” like the one in 1080plus felt like some kind of magic.
And now it does again, maybe.
Plus, with the stresses of public shaming, bad Twitter, internet white supremacists, and a toxic political culture that isn’t going away until November (if ever), it feels like a vacation to the friendly confines of the new old internet is exactly what we need right now.