When historians sit down to write the strange tale of the 21st century, the internet will probably give them a lot of trouble.
Take "The Hampsterdance" for instance: almost 20 years after this strange internet phenomenon got its start we all know the song by heart. And if you're old enough to remember the website, those dancing hamsters are burned into your brain. But why did we become obsessed with these adorable rodents? The answer is pretty surprising.
It all started with Deirdre Lacarte, an art student who was living in British Columbia, Canada in the summer of 1998. Lacarte, her sister, and her friend started a friendly competition: they would each start a website and see who could get the most visitors (spoiler alert: Lacarte won).
LaCarte's entry to the contest was a GeoCities web page with dozens of dancing hamster gifs. Later, she added a looping song in the background, which was at the cutting edge of HTML design in those early days of the internet.
The sped-up nine-second loop of "Whistle Stop," best-known as the song from the opening credits of Disney's Robin Hood, combined with the hamsters to become an instant sensation. At first, LaCarte's site got about 4 visitors per day, but almost overnight The Hampsterdance became a global hit.