I remember the first days of firing up Mosaic, the web browser that started it all over 20 years ago. I spent countless hours getting lost in websites and ending up far from where my initial searches had began.
Today, spending time on the Internet seems more like a task-oriented process. Sure, I occasionally get lost in the posts of my friends and colleagues on Facebook and I've been known to linger way too long than I should in the Twitter feed but it seems like the days of just getting lost within something new doesn't happen nearly as often as it used to.
There is hope, however, my nomad-like friends! I have found a few websites that have brought back that hopelessly (yet blissfully) lost feeling of wandering the internet.
First up is chartgirl.com. This site features a collection of charts (typically only done in black and white) that feature modern topics in a unique way. Whether it's Taylor Swift: Maneater, or a decidedly humorous look at some of Donald Trump's "business" interactions, there is something interesting to be found here. While a concise infographic about the Boston Bombings might catch your news-seeking eye, I dare you not to scroll down the right side and get lost in all kinds of topics involving the likes of Alec Baldwin to (yet another) dissection of Rob Ford's comings and goings. This is fun stuff.
If Twitter has taught us anything, it is to be brief with our words. Similarly, 5secondfilms.com teaches us how to make meaningful, interesting films in only five seconds. Okay, I might be stretching it a bit but you'll be surprised at how much time can go by -- minutes, hours, even -- five seconds at a time. I couldn't stop. Must. Stop. Watching.
If you were saddened by Google's decision to close its news reader service, or even if you don't have a clue what I'm talking about, you should check out Feedly (feedly.com). It easily allows you to create a custom news feed for all of the stuff that matters to you. Quickly search for keywords around your favourite personal topics (mine including #tech and #gaming) and let Feedly build a custom list of sites you can subscribe to. Start with a minimum of five and before you know it, stories will start populating your news feed faster than you can say "RSS". It's free and quite frankly is better than what Google offered in the first place, so I'm staying in the happy zone with this product. There goes another large chunk of my day.
You probably know by now that Etsy.com is quite a place to shop for hand crafted items, and that Pinterest.com is a great place to share (and discover) cool and wonderful things you find online, but did you know about zazzle.ca? You can find all kinds of cool and unique gift items, ranging from posters, to clothing, to accessories and so on. However, with a few simple clicks you can create your own custom items. But we're not just talking the usual mugs and t-shirts here. Zazzle lets you create your own iPhone (or Android) cases, bags, hats, watches, necklaces, and more. If you own the design you can even sell your creations online. It's quite the site and can easily have you wandering around for hours.
Finally, for all those gamers of old out there, visit sarien.net. On the site, you can play classic adventure titles, such as King's Quest and Space Quest from Sierra games. These adventures shaped the gaming industry early on but setting up your modern computer to play them can be frustrating. This website makes it a breeze.
So there you have it, a collection of great time wasters that will bring you back to the early days of wandering around the brand new place called the World Wide Web. The web is used for so many serious things nowadays, so it's great to just lose the GPS sometimes and let yourself get lost. See you next week.
Syd Bolton is the curator of the Personal Computer Museum and the manager of information technology at ACIC / Methapharm. You can reach him via-email at email@example.com or by snail mail care of The Brantford Expositor.