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Ohio University and the internet: a brief history

Since the internet and the World Wide Web have their roots in academia, it's not too surprising that Ohio University has had a presence on the internet for quite some time. 

What's surprising is how much that presence has changed. And with a little snooping around, we can take a look at those developments. 

The websites 

Using the Wayback Machine, you can look at old archived webpages from any URL of your choosing. 

Below is a screenshot of www.ohio.edu in January of 1999. 


The above page looks pretty dated — let's put it into context.

The impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton began in early January 1999. TLC's "No Scrubs" ended up in the second position on the Billboard Top 100 of that year. AOL released AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) in mid-1997.

Webpages in general looked a lot different in the late '90s and early 2000s than they do now for a few reasons, Tim Martin, owner and designer of Red Tail Design Company in Athens, said. 

Internet speed was one of those reasons — the advent of broadband meant users could more readily access better looking images and other media. But it also had to do with the way people thought about and wrote the code that powers websites, he said.

"You were stuck in a specific kind of grid or structure," Martin said. "There wasn't much fluidity." 

Martin said back then, print newspapers were the main mode of media delivery and consumption, so web developers took inspiration from them. Namely, they tried to fit a lot of info at the top of the page, or "above the fold."

Martin added that more recently, mobile devices have played a large role in the way web designers think about site layouts. 

OU's site started to look a little more modern in the mid-2000s. If you haven't looked at OU's web page recently, it looks a lot better than it did in 1999.

OhioBobcats.com, the official site for university athletics, also looks pretty rough in retrospect. The image below is what the site looked like in 2001, according to Internet Archive.


OU on Wikipedia

OU was relatively early to the Wikipedia game.

According to the edit logs attached to the "Ohio University" page, the university's main page was created in in 2004, when the website started growing quickly, but was still exponentially smaller than it is now. 

Click here to see OU's first Wikipedia page. 

It's pretty bare bones: No pictures, a lot of bullet points and a history of the university condensed to one paragraph. Its creation is credited to a Craig Butz, whose Wikipedia editor's page identifies him as a school teacher in California. An online portfolio states he's an OU grad.

During the next 12 years Wikipedia users beefed up OU's page, but it wasn't without conflict. In 2006, revision logs show users Ned Scott and RKevins engaging in a snippy back-and-forth conversation about whether the main page should contain a space for detailed information about OU's athletic teams considering a separate "Ohio Bobcats" page already existed.   

The exchange is as follows:

Ned Scott: "This template is already on Ohio Bobcats, where it is most appropriate there. Please do not clutter this article in the same way that Ohio State University is."

Rkevins: "you could also say that I shouldn't clutter this page, as almost all of the other MAC schools in the east have"

Ned Scott: "(revised), unless you'd actually like to cite a REASON for it being on this article AND the sports article."

As of Aug. 30, there is both a section on OU's main page for athletics and information about the Bobcats in the sidebar. The main page is now rather lengthy and has undergone at least 500 revisions since its inception. 

Social Media 

OU's official twitter (@ohiou) sent out its first tweet in 2008, a little more than two years after Twitter's initial launch. 

No retweets or favorites. Sad.  

The university wasn't so quick on the draw when it came to Instagram. The official OU Instagram (@ohio.university) published its first post less than two years ago. Instagram launched in 2010.

jh082913@ohio.edu

@JeremyHTweets

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