Off the Grid

Off the Grid
Tipocalypse Now

Peter Parrish | 17 Mar 2009 12:06
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Even though they're probably online right at this moment, a healthy portion of internet users secretly believe the place is rotten to the core. It's not difficult to imagine why - life without the net can seem pretty attractive. No stupid fanboy flamewars. No more instant duplication of urban legends or dubious political stories as fact. No lolcats. It's easy to paint a happier, internet-free world.

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Others know this is naive. Idiocy will always find an outlet. Whispering campaigns have existed longer than politics itself, and there's never any accounting for taste. A lack of internet means no online gaming, slower distribution of information and a shameful return to hunting for discarded pages of pornography in the woods. Pretty bad news all around. But no, dear reader, it's even worse than that. The repercussions of a world without internet would be far more serious than the need to dust off our filthy raincoats. It could hold dire consequences for the entire planet.

Let us now gaze into the crystal ball and witness an internet-free timeline that is as revealing as it is disturbing.

1960 - 1980
Decades of technological experimentation with the transference of data packets suddenly comes to an end when Tim Berners-Lee, an independent contractor at CERN in Switzerland, is distracted by a wasp. Hypertext Transfer Protocol is never developed, and everybody forgets about other ways of sharing data. It was a really fascinating wasp.

1980 - 1999
Fueled by the progress in computing made in the 1970s, videogaming evolves largely as normal. Yet as gaming technology becomes increasingly advanced, the complexity of games produced increases exponentially. The need for tips, cheats and walkthroughs expands at pace with this increase in sophistication. In the beginning, print publications attempt to meet the public's new demand for help in their gaming adventures. However, it rapidly becomes clear that the traditional monthly release schedule of most magazines is insufficient for delivering on-demand tips in the volume and detail craved by the gaming public. Experiments with weekly publications end in failure as overworked freelance staff, forced by budgetary constraints into doing their own copyediting, exhibit a 95-percent inaccuracy rate when transcribing cheat codes. Tip's Weakly closes in 1999. It is not missed.

2000 - 2001
Tip hotlines begin to grow in number and size at an alarming pace. A record-breaking merger deal between the three main providers of mainland and offshore tips (EasyTips, CheatMaster and SelfLoathing) results in the multi-billion dollar formation of the SuperTips Conglomerate. Hopes for an enquiry into the trading legalities of this business venture are quickly dashed, as world governments are keen to announce new employment opportunities for their citizens in the thousands of Deluxe Working Environments promised by SuperTips executives.

By 2001, a World Trade Organization report places the worldwide number of SuperTips Call Centers at 56,000. The same report estimates that growth will continue at a steady 22 percent per annum, peaking at 87 percent when a new version of Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts is released. In the same year, an independent study concludes that one in five people in developing nations now work for SuperTips. The majority of workers register feelings of "fatigue," "depression" and "hatred of every living soul."

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