This year for Christmas, I finally decided to give my family something that they've been asking me about for more or less the past five years: I told them that I would clean my room.
No, really. I moved out of my childhood home years ago, but more or less shut the door to my room and didn't change a thing. It's sort of a late '90s-early '00s teenage time capsule. There was stuff in there that had not been touched since the Clinton administration. There were magazines with Justin Timberlake on the cover from an era when nobody expected he'd be cast as a Silicon Valley hotshot in a movie directed by the "Fight Club" guy. There were varsity letters and prom photos and model rockets and Warped Tour '01 memorabilia and pretty much whatever else you'd expect to find in the living space of a kid who came of age in the era of "Can't Hardly Wait" and "Dawson's Creek."
That inventory included one almost perfectly preserved AOL 7.0 installer disc, a CD-ROM that boasts "Faster Than Ever!" and offers 1,025 free hours of access or 45 days, whichever comes first, with no credit card required. (1,025 hours is slightly under 42 days.) On the red-and-gold packaging is the face of a Japanese anime-style character, the edges of the drawing blurred to make the marketing message absolutely clear: This is fast. This is the future.… Read more