Deader Than Disco: New Media
Given the pace of technology changes, there are lots of examples with computing.
Computer Programs and Hardware
Computer Programs and Hardware
- Internet portals like Prodigy, CompuServe, iMagination, etc. They were called portals because that's how you usually entered the Internet — they had a lot of links to useful sites, news and a content listing. When the Internet was fledgling during the '90s, they were extremely popular. However, the more efficient, less resource-intensive, and free World Wide Web put them on a steady decline. Today, America Online is the only one of these services that still remains, and even that's pretty much on its last legs, remembered as a symbol of all that was wrong with the mainstream internet in the '90s.
- Floppy drives and floppy disks (commonly known as the A:\ drive to Windows usersnote ) are mostly dead thanks to the fast advancements in computer and storage technology. The most basic CD or DVD simply has capacity orders of magnitude larger than the floppy disk and DVD and USB drives perform much faster than a floppy drive. The popularity of streaming and downloads has also made optical discs in turn largely obsolete.
- Funnily, the aforementioned rise of the CD-ROM format started a five or six year trend that would itself become this: the so-called "Multimedia Revolution." During the early 1990s, as the CD-ROM format was becoming mainstream, "multimedia" had become a huge buzzword in the computing industry. The idea was that basic domestic activities, from mothers looking up dinner recipes to teenagers researching the first World War, could now be done on home computers thanks to the large amounts of information CDs could store. Between 1991 and 1996, numerous "multimedia applications" were developed, from Microsoft Encarta (a full-fledged encyclopedia on CD-ROM) to edutainment games for children, such as the Putt-Putt series.
Two things effectively killed the "multimedia" movement. The first and most obvious was the rise of the World Wide Web, quickly rendering CD-ROM-based reference software obsolete. The other was the rise in Microsoft Windows 95 as a gaming platform. Originally, Microsoft was pushing Windows 95 as the "ultimate multimedia powerhouse", with Microsoft Encarta being its big Killer App. Around that same time, a little game called Doom was released. After audiences turned out to be far more intrigued by Doom than Encarta, Bill Gates gradually phased the "multimedia" focus out of his promotions of Windows 95, instead emphasizing its potential as a gaming platform. This was heavily fueled by the creation of DirectX, a game development library that made computer game development and installation easier than it ever was on DOS; no longer did gamers need to mess with confusing soundcard configurations or expensive memory managers to get a single game running, as DirectX took care of all those issues automatically. Furthermore, many later interactive CD-ROMs were cheaply-made cash grabs with little to offer; a perusal of MacAddict in the late '90s will find nearly every other CD-ROM getting thoroughly panned. Today, the "multimedia movement" is seen as a joke and little more than a footnote when discussing the rise of the personal computer, its place in history having been completely overshadowed by the internet.
- Many Windows operating systems are obsolete due to newer, faster, and more secure versions being released every few years. Windows XP is still widely used by schools and many workplaces—including many governmental units (many a new hire at a US federal courthouse is surprised to find the computer runs XP)—and it is also still used by consumers who do not wish to upgrade their OS, even though Windows XP is no longer supported by Microsoft. Some places may still use Windows 95/98/2000 as well just for their simplicity (and thus making certain work tasks quicker to do without having to go through more complicated software), but those are incredibly rare to see.
- Having certain e-mail providers is seen as sure signs that you are an old person who probably barely uses the internet. These include Yahoo, Hotmail, AOL, and various discontinued internet providers like Netzero. In fact, pretty much any e-mail provider other than Gmail seems to be slipping into this trope. However, Hotmail may end up seeing a second life as Outlook (since the Hotmail accounts were grandfathered when the change occurred).
- WebRings, Topsites and internet directories have been affected by this trope, with the prominence of Google (which most discounts their effects on a site's SEO) and the rise in social networks as a means of promotion having made things like giant lists of links and the like kind of useless. Indeed, some might say the only people who even visit such sites nowadays are webmasters trying to promote their work (instead of end users trying to find new content). This can be seen by how the Open Directory Project/DMOZ has slowly fallen in relevance, and even completely been dropped as a feature by Google in recent years.
- Dedicated instant messenger programs (such as ICQ, AOL Instant Messenger, and MSN Messenger) for computers were very popular among Internet users during the days when a significant percentage of them had dial-up connections, as they would allow you to see when a friend logged on and instantly open a chat with them. But the rise in popularity of text messaging, cell phone plans with free long distance calling, social media sites like Facebook adding built-in chat features, gaming clients like Steam and Battle.Net having built-in instant messaging, and free video chat programs like Skype and Tango have caused dedicated instant messengers to become somewhat obsolete. These days, IM programs are mainly used by businesses as a way of allowing quick, easy communications between employees who may not be sitting right next to each other.
- For that matter, the concept of meeting and chatting with total strangers on the Internet seems to have become this, now that issues like cyber-pedophilia and phishing have soured the once novel concept of meeting different people from around the world with just your computer.
- GeoCities, which allowed many early denizens of the 'Net to make their own Web pages without needing to know how to use HTML. However, Sturgeon's Law was in full force, as seen in this article: "It didn't take long before this simple change altered the face of the internet. GeoCities gave everyone a place to call home, and then proved that most of us don't really have a lot to say. It didn't take long before GeoCities became home to the bottom of the Internet. Crackpot theories. Inane ramblings. Worm distribution." and "I think that most people set up a GC page as a novelty and then abandoned it leaving a whole lot of cyber-trash behind. That kind of ruined the overall GeoCities vibe; it wasn't long before you had to muck through a few dozen one-offs to find a page that was regularly maintained and had good, interesting content." GeoCities was often seen as a haven of garishly colored pages full of blink tags and animated GIFs. Also, the rise of blogging, as well as social media like Facebook and Youtubenote , rendered the concept of a free personal homepage obsolete, while those who still wanted to build their own Websites moved on to more advanced tools.
- By proxy, comment sections in major news articles and editorials significantly dwindled during the '10s. The initial idea of comment sections was that anybody could give his/her own commentary on whatever major social issue or event was being covered in the article, and they were initially hailed as a promising new avenue for free speech. Unfortunately, as with GeoCities, Sturgeon's Law kicked in — for every one comment that was reasonably thoughtful and well-written, you generally had to wade through at least nine or ten utterly worthless comments written by trolls, spammers, bigots, religious fanatics, anti-religious fanatics, political extremists on all sides, and all-around raving lunatics, with flame wars between them breaking out more often than not. Needless to say, this was especially true when it came to articles related to volatile subjects such as politics or religion; a widespread joke was that the comments sections on such articles could resemble the ramblings on Stormfront, a prominent white supremacist message board. Comment sections developed such a toxic reputation that "don't read the comments if you value your sanity" became an unofficial motto for many, and a growing number of news websites and internet personalities dispensed with comment sections altogether, while others strongly tightened their moderation and rules in order to regulate what can and cannot be posted in them.
- Usenet newsgroups have been a cornerstone of the Web since the 80s, and many are still active to this day. However, their relevance began sliding as early as the Eternal September of 1993, when America Online opened up Usenet, thus flooding many a group with college freshmen who had no netiquette to speak of. Over time, many forums withered and died as they became overrun with trolls, spammers, and the like. In addition, many of the "alt" groups had begun posting porn or pirated software, thus causing some ISPs to block off Usenet entirely. Also helping Usenet's demise was the rise of the Website and especially the Web forum, which allowed the same open discussion as a Usenet group, albeit with moderation to keep the Garbage Post Kids out.
- vBulletin. Back in the early 00s, this was THE forum script of choice in the internet world. Basically, once you bought a vBulletin license, you knew you had the best possible software and were respected pretty much internet wide for it. And the creators had even better reputation. Then Internet Brands bought it. And released vBulletin 4. And the incredibly poor quality vBulletin 5. The software's popularity dropped sharply off a cliff and never recovered.
- A lot of CMS systems suffered this too. PHP Nuke has basically fallen off the map, Mambo went from a big name to abandoned in a few years and even some of the more 'popular' scripts like Joomla and Drupal have become a lot less popular in recent years, having basically become unknown in large parts of the internet. This was mostly because Word Press went from 'blogging software' to 'quasi CMS with a near monopoly over the market', causing its rivals to pretty much just vanish or die out.
- The MIDI format, even outside of video games, has fallen under this trope (see the video game section for more information). Back in the mid-late 1990s, MIDIs were often used as a cheaper and less memory intensive alternative to music. However, by the 2000s to the early tens, with the rise of MP3s and other sound formats becoming more popular (not to mention more economical, with hard drive sizes increasing and DSL/Cable modems speeding up file transfers), they are now usually subject to mockery.
- Once the king of all website design languages, PHP has sadly (or finally, depending on your point of view) fallen into this realm in The New Tens. The exact reasons behind it are very complex and it would take an entire wiki page to chronicle every single factor that contibuted to its falling out of favor, but they can be boiled down to:
- Poor stewardship (a project's quality of management and responsiveness to the community). This was most evident when it stopped development for three years and the version being developed was ultimately scrapped.
- Many of its proponents moving away from it. Most notably, Facebook decided to develop its own version of PHP, Hack, and called it "all that PHP should've been".
- In the eighties and early nineties, it was a truth universally acknowledged that WordPerfect would be the dominant player in word-processing software forever. Then, however, Novell bought Word Perfect and seemed interested more in shoehorning WordPerfect into Novell's networking strategy than in its customers' needs. Additionally, and even worse, WordPerfect's main selling points throughout its service life were its key combination based control system, its printer drivers, and its font libraries; the onset of Microsoft Windows effectively killed all three at once. New releases of WordPerfect were late and buggy, allowing Microsoft to take over the market.
- Similarly, Lotus 1-2-3 was the dominant spreadsheet program in the '80s and early '90s. It was one of the litmus tests for IBM Personal Computer compatibility, but faltered due to Lotus' slowness in developing a version for Microsoft Windows. This allowed Microsoft Excel to take over and Lotus never recovered. Lotus was eventually gobbled by IBM and not because of their office suite, but because of their actually innovative Lotus Notes corporate mail system.
- Dedicated sound cards like the Sound Blaster have been mostly replaced by generic sound chips built into the motherboard. Like hi-fi sound systems, sound card manufacturers have responded by turning them into professional-grade sound systems with tons of features, such as Surround 5.1 connectors, coaxial and optical SPDIF audio ports, and support for professional sampling rates around the 200 kHz instead of CD-grade 44.1 kHz.
- Desktop PCs have been mostly replaced with laptops, which are in turn being replaced for many people by tablets and smartphones. Like the stereo systems example, PC manufacturers have responded by going upmarket, targeting gamers in particular with high-performance components on the home computer side, and going for the specialized business market due in one hand to the fact that specialized tasks such as computer modeling, art and design or programming are rather infeasible when done on a tablet, and on the other hand because portable devices have a reputation of being woefully insecure and constantly leaking private data to the internet which makes it dangerous to handle business-critical information with them. In business and government, if it's a desktop it's a small "pizza box" machine or it's hooked up to a piece of equipment. Desktops are still popular in schools and offices because they far more difficult to steal than laptops are — to steal a company-issued desktop PC you must somehow infiltrate the corporate premises, evade security and be able to run away unnoticed with a huge box, whereas to steal a corporate-issued laptop you just need to enter the Starbucks closest to a company site, pull a gun on someone's head and take their computer.
- The idea of paying for operating system upgrades is dead. Apple announced that the latest versions of Mac OS X would be free starting with Mavericks, and Microsoft made Windows 8.1 a free upgrade from Windows 8, a policy they've carried over to Windows 10. They even announced that it would be a free upgrade from Windows 7. This followed years of decreasing prices for upgrades, around $29 down from around $100 for OS upgrades in the '90s. And that's not counting mobile upgrades, which have always been free.
- The announcement that Apple would not support Adobe Flash on its mobile devices killed it overnight, spurring the rapid move toward HTML 5 for web video and web apps.
- Any number of older friending networks. Friendster is considered one of the defining examples of a fallen social network (although it stayed popular in southeast Asia and evolved into a social gaming site), and Myspace has gone the same way due to competition from (and attempts to catch up with) Facebook.
- The dot-com boom in the late '90s produced a great many websites and companies that were built seemingly entirely on hype in business journals and kitschy adverts, among them Pets.com, Lycos, and Freeinternet.com. After the bubble burst in 2000-01 and dragged down many e-businesses with it, they went from being the subject of public admiration for their founders' ingenuity and entrepreneurial spirit to mockery for their folly virtually overnight.
- This E-Trade Super Bowl ad from 2001 demonstrates the fall from grace that many such companies were undergoing at the time. It's a parody of the Crying Indian ad in which a chimpanzee on horseback wanders past the empty, derelict headquarters of many fallen e-businesses devoted to ridiculous things, plus the abandoned sports car of someone who got rich in the dot-com boom and presumably lost it all when the bubble burst. The chimp sheds a Single Tear upon discovering Pets.com's sock puppet mascot (which had featured in a Super Bowl ad by that company just a year before) lying in the ruins.
- "Mature humor" Flash sites like Newgrounds, Camp Chaos, and Icebox were seen as the next big thing in the late '90s. At the time, seeing something so independent and uncensored was absolutely phenomenal, especially to younger teenagers, and many of these videos, produced with easily-accessible tools by just one person or a small group of friends, inspired many future animators. Once the millennium hit, though, the popularity of these sites took a downhill slide. Some of them got swept up in the bursting of the dot-com bubble and shut down, while others tried avenues into other forms of media and didn't have much success. Furthermore, as the scope of the Internet grew and their original audience grew up, some people just found their brand of Vulgar Humor too juvenile to enjoy anymore, especially with new generations of online videos and websites (such as Happy Tree Friends and Encyclopedia Dramatica) having far surpassed many of these efforts in shock value, edge, and boundary-pushing humor. Today, Newgrounds is one of the few sites from that era that's still doing well, and even they have tried to shy away from the tasteless humor that once defined them, instead mainly showcasing more art-oriented submissions.
- In TV Tropes, there were once popular features such as Fetish Fuel, Troper Tales, and It Just Bugs Me, as well as tropes such as I Am Not Making This Up, So Yeah, and Nakama. However, as misuse and the like came about, these features and tropes, as well as some others, were deleted, renamed, or sent to an offshoot wiki. Today, these features and tropes are no longer used, and no matter how much some tropers will demand to have them returned, the site's admins will not allow any appeal, and instead tropers are encouraged to regard the creation of these features as the worst things that ever happened to the wiki. Averted with TV Tropes itself, which will never die.
- As late as 2007, YTMND was one of the most powerful forces on the Internet. The day it managed to coordinate a raid among Something Awful, 4chan, and Newgrounds remains one of the most astonishing achievements in trolling history. These days, its Alexa rank barely scratches the top 50,000 sites on the web, and it seems to risk a shutdown every other month. This is largely due to the novelty of a bunch of GIFs filling up the screen with looping audio having worn off in the wake of sites like YouTube, which offers far more substantial content.
- Related to GeoCities above, dedicated, independent fan pages seem to have gone the way of the dodo. There was a saturation of such pages during the late 1990s, and most of them were pretty much indistinguishable from one another (piles of mundane information about the interest, combined with some poorly-sequenced GIF images and cheesy MIDI music in the background). The rise in professional media-centered sites like IGN and The AV Club, as well as the rise of Wikipedia (and, of course, this very wiki), made that sort of basic info far easier to access with far less hassle. Fansites now are often very professional, expected to have their own wikis and message boards as well as up-to-date news and commentary on the property in question, and more often than not they are closely involved with the creators of said property.
- Digibutter.nerr. Launched as a forum about Super Paper Mario when the game was new, it gradually faded into irrelevance as the game lost steam, before eventually dying off for good when the owner converted it to a different forum script. Now all that remains are RSS feeds from popular sites and the odd comment from someone who'll never return again.
- A couple of admin sites have come under this as well. Admin Fusion for instance was a rather successful site a couple of years ago, but multiple changes in ownership and a complete failure to manage the site have left it a spam ridden ghost town. Similar situations have been noted of Admin Addict and Top Admin, both of which were fairly popular or respected once and are now either shut down or completely dead.
- Digg was a popular social news site, but a poorly-executed redesign caused most of its userbase to flee to Reddit. It was purchased and relaunched by Betaworks, but is a shell of itself.
- Uncyclopedia is quickly becoming this due to its lack of quality control and the rise of Encyclopedia Dramatica, as well as "random" humor having gone completely out of style. It's pretty much only notable for elevating Oscar Wilde to Memetic Badass status.
- ED itself, though still quite active, hasn't ever really recovered from the attempt to turn it into Oh Internet and the subsequent flight of the users to a replacement ED. It's still quite large, but it's not the terrifying bogeyman it once was, now cataloging drama instead of creating it.
- Around 2008 or so Animexpansion was a fairly huge and popular site dedicated to (mostly) worksafe anime-related fetish art. Now thanks to myriad hosting/format problems, a failed attempt to turn it into a forum, and the backlash against the site owner due to his interests, the site is dead and nearly gone. Only a tiny fraction of its artists are active in any way.
- Rapidshare was once one of the top 50 sites on the web and was a very widely used file hosting service. After implementing harsh anti-piracy measures, which include heavily capping download speeds for free users back in late 2012, they have lost a significant amount of users. While they have eventually lifted the cap, the damage was already done, and users had moved on to competing services like Mega. In 2015, Rapidshare announced they were shutting down.
- The Game Overthinker episode "Who Will Be Remembered?" is basically a discussion of this trope, asking which iconic video games and characters will stand the test of time. Past examples from film, animation, comic books and stand-up comedy are employed to demonstrate how the trope works.
- The episode "Thing We Lost in the Fire" also covers this trope, talking about how arcades have experienced this in the United States, and how they could possibly make a comeback (using the Golden Tee series of golf games as Exhibit A).
- Discussed again in the episode "Setting Sun", where he talks about the decline of the Japanese game industry.
- "Tribute" videos on YouTube. Back in the heyday of 2006-2009, it was common among the younger users to make slideshows/video collages of something, usually a sports team or fictional character, set to a song (usually Linkin Park, Green Day, Simple Plan, Three Days Grace or similar). Nowadays, with platforms such as Tumblr where people can blog and discuss such things more extensively, such videos are now considered obsolete or redundant. It didn't help that the videos always had a Hatedom among the more "mature" users, who found them narmy and clichéd. An easy way of telling if a YouTube user was under the age of 17 was by whether or not they had a Sasuke tribute set to "Animal I Have Become" in their uploads.
- Same goes for AMVs, especially anime ones. Furthermore, the heyday of AMVs was in the mid-to-late aughts, when YouTube was still fairly permissive when it came to copyright. With YouTube becoming increasingly litigious in its pursuit of infringers, AMV makers are doubly at-risk — will they get flagged by a record company, or by the animation company? Consequently, thousands upon thousands of AMVs have been Lost Forever and their makers banned since the crackdowns, leaving the practice unappealing.
- Animutation was very popular in its day, but its decline coincided with the fall of flash animation (and flash animation websites) and the rise of video-sharing sites like YouTube. Animutation's reliance on surrealism and obscure non-English songs meant that its fan base was never that huge to begin with, and casual viewers abandoned it in favor of the similar, yet more easily-accessible, YouTube Poop videos when they became popular.
- Text-based video game countdowns (read: Top X lists that make their point across by showing an image or video of the entry followed by a text defending the entry) were huge back in 2008, and people with those videos had views past the 10k mark. From 2010 onwards, however, those type of countdowns have faded out in favor of vocal countdowns (read: Top X list that show video footage while putting in a voice-over defending the entry), and the people that made text-based countdowns in the past are nowadays, for the most part, left in the dust. This can most likely be explained due to the fact that vocal countdowns are easier to follow, more immersive, and easier to put jokes into. Music-based video game countdowns are still generally text-based, but that is mainly because putting a voice-over over music ruins the immersion easily.
- Certain topics in general have become discredited by the community. Most notably the "Top 10 easiest bosses" list. Thanks to the spreading of Zero Effort Bosses, it has become a rather boring topic to cover.
- Way back in the early days of Abridged Series, Naruto The Abridged Series was perhaps the second most popular series after Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series. Some went so far as to say that it was the only other good series aside from YGO, and Little Kuriboh would sometimes guest star and take good natured potshots at it in his own series. Eventually, the creators MasakoX and Vegeta3986 split up and the series ended. Nowadays, its legacy is almost completely forgotten, and its overshadowed by several series that have managed to surpass its early popularity. Evidence of this can perhaps be found in how pitifully short is trope page is compared to many other popular web series.
- The Star Wars vs. Star Trek debates became this. One of the oldest discussion topics on the internet, it once had its own forum on Usenet, and countless Cross Over stories were written by the topic. The debate began to falter after various scientifically-oriented fans started crunching numbers, and came to a conclusion suggesting that a lone Star Destroyer could probably solo the entire Federation fleet - to say nothing of the massive disparity in resources between the two traditional sides (the 150-planet Federation is a whole two tiers below the million-planet Empire on the Kardashev Scale). Debates over the veracity of these calculations were then squashed by official material that provided statistics that were, if anything, higher than the usual claims. Since then, any given debate between the two sides tends to deliberately ignore the difference, analyze unusual situations (Voyager is replaced by a Star Destroyer, what happens?), or go for humor, with many of the traditional forms having been salted. Any remaining debate was completely driven into the ground by several individuals who tried to turn it into a debate about what was or wasn't canon in the two franchises, which the vast majority of fans simply didn't give a shit about. Most importantly, George Lucas has gone on record by saying that Star Wars owes part of its success to the path that Star Trek help pave. Thus, he considers the rivalry absurd. The debate may be seeing something of a resurgence thanks to the more technologically advanced Star Trek reboot, along with Disney disavowing the Star Wars Expanded Universe and all supplementary materials, though it's doubtful that it'll achieve the same fervour as in the late 90s and early 00s.
- Because the lifecycle of a meme is rarely cyclical and often quite rapid, just about any Discredited Meme qualifies. Examples include: "I used to be an adventurer like you, then I took an arrow in the knee.", "The Harlem Shake", and many others. As the internet becomes more mainstream and interconnected, the shelf life of memes becomes shorter and shorter. People declared the Harlem Shake a dead meme after less than a month of it gaining prominence.
- TFWiki.net is well-known for its many running gags. It has a section in its policy page titled "Captions and jokes we're sick of", which lists all of the sites running gags and memes that have died out. Some of said jokes have become so despised by the userbase that mentioning them can get you a revert or even an editing ban if the mods aren't in a good mood.
- Fan Fiction example: Dumbledore's Army and the Year of Darkness by Thanfiction was once one of the best-regarded stories in the Harry Potter fandom. It provided an intriguing Perspective Flip to one of the premiere offscreen moments of awesome in the series, namely the resistance to the Death Eaters by the students of Hogwarts in the final book, and the author gained praise for researching actual Child Soldiers to better be able to describe the students' plight. The hype, however, was not to last, and criticisms mounted over time, including, but not limited to: the Character Shilling of Neville as the leader of the resistance to the expense of Luna and Ginny (in the book, Neville himself says they shared leadership duties equally); the treatment of women, particularly the arc involving Lavender being raped and the boys, not Lavender herself, punishing the rapists; the seeming disdain for the canon main characters Harry, Ron, and Hermione, whom various characters insult for not weathering the storm with them; the fact that the story kills off several characters confirmed to survive in canon despite claiming to be canon-compliant; and the treatment given to Snape, who is shown as an unrepentant Death Eater and the true Big Bad of the story — Thanfiction even stated on his blog that he hated how Snape was redeemed in the books and chose to write him as the sociopath he "really" is.
Any fandom the story had was largely finished off when it came out that "Thanfiction" was actually Andrew Blake, a notorious Con Man who had, under his previous screen name "Victoria Bitter," swindled many Lord of the Rings fans out of money, and who is also known for seducing and abandoning women in real life. The story still has a following, but they are mostly looked at with disdain and willfully blind to the story's flaws.