Internet back in the late 90s was a completely different online world compared to now. Back then, terms were used like "the information superhighway", "cyberspace" and the like in a desperate attempt to describe to the masses what the internet was.
The way people find things online is still primarily based on search engines; in fact, it’s probably a good bet you originally found PCMech from a search.
Things that have changed from the late 90s to today with internet search
The Main Engine
The #1 search wasn’t Google in the 90s, it was Yahoo. The yahoo.com site was so well-known that when people wanted to check to make sure their internet connectivity was working correctly, it was common to hear "Go to Yahoo to see if your internet is working." Today that’s been replaced by Google.
The internet was small enough back in the day where engines could in fact manage their entire directory of sites by hand, and did. This led to the problem of certain engines being bribed with ten of thousands of dollars by companies just to get higher-end search results. This happened often and it’s why human-edited directories are more or less nonexistent now.
There was no such thing as a personalized search in the 90s. It didn’t matter if you were in Florida USA or Sydney Australia as the search results were the same no matter where you were.
A rather large sect of the internet populous firmly believes that we should go back to search results of that type, citing that personalized search hinders personal discovery. Does it? That depends on your point of view. Personally, I will say that social discovery (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) did prove that Google’s way of personalization simply doesn’t work.
Search and Search Alone
All search engines today practically beg you to sign in with an account for "personalized results" as described above, and to integrate other services the site offering the search has.
In the 90s there wasn’t any begging to sign in with an account mainly for the reason account integration largely didn’t exist at the time.
Shady side note: Being that search giants know we’ve never liked being pestered to sign up for stuff again and again, instead they used very unethical ways to follow us around via browser cookies instead (hello, Facebook) to track everywhere we go. That, dear readers, is why you should use "Private" or "Incognito" browsing.
There wasn’t any suggested search in the 90s. What this means is that when you start typing something to search for, a box pops up that slows down your browser and says – very loudly – "DID YOU WANT TO SEARCH FOR [THIS]? OR [THAT]? OR [THE OTHER THING]?" Of course, most of the time these suggestions are flat-out wrong.
Thankfully, in browsers like Firefox you can turn that suggested crap completely off so it stays off permanently, but it’s sad we have to do that.
Search is better now, but annoying
It is true that search results today are far better than what we had in the 90s. The downside is that we’re consistently pestered to login with an account, pestered to use an utterly useless "like" or "+1" feature we don’t care about, blasted with search suggestions that are wrong most of the time, and tracked at every turn via our cookies.
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