When I first got on the internet, it was awesome. You could find informal, interesting stories and information written by smart people. The type of people who usually only write really formal, serious articles. It was like overhearing the lunch conversation of two professors - there was more speculation.
It also had a big chunk of content produced by various sysadmins, programmers, hippie rebels, and philosophers.
Things were written in a personalized, thoughtful and informed way.
Most content was on .edu sites - or weird, foreign services, where random people who stumbled onto the internet were amazed to have a pulpit to say things in public.
There weren't many images, and it wasn't social, which sucked, but it was still better than what we have now.
You could search for something and pages which looked like personal versions of wikipedia articles. Fan/expert-written pages on any subject within programming, astronomy, anime, science, philosophy, plus bits of other stuff - and without the no-bias rules.
It covered anything obscure you could think of, plus people's real opinions. No edit wars, just nice informative pages (and lots of lists of links, cause you couldn't rely on search engines to find stuff)
Google SERPs are full of junk now - way worse than ever in the past. Try searching for fan / real independent human pages about things which people make money from - sports, medicine etc. All the results are produced by huge companies and their horrible web page layouts & writing.
There is good stuff being produced now, but it's hard to find. You need to be in a domain for a while before you figure out what the leading pages are. So it's much harder to explore new areas than it used to be - you have to be pretty dedicated to find the honest blogs about say, new cameras, before you find one.
Blogs have mostly replaced personal homepages, and are the main way people create personal, article-sized content now.
The problem with them is that older entries kind of disappear. New articles don't naturally link to old articles, and most of them are just gone. Most engines don't implement tags very well by default, so you can't find related matter easily.
The other problem is that most articles on blogs are read right after they're published. Over time, the readership goes way down. So most of them are read before they've been edited and fixed up very much, and fixes done later aren't done much.
It's great that people can write blogs, but the sequential format just makes people churn over the same stuff again and again.
Forums are kind of like how the internet used to be, too - real voices, reputations, a personal history of contributions. Plus, they have personal interactions and comments. However, they don't have much linking, and can get rep-whorish / flamey.
I wanted sth a bit more like how it used to be, so I made these pages.