In the frontier days of the internet there were fewer ads but the quality of the content was a fair bit lower. I'm not even talking about the technology here, I'm talking about eyesore websites where someone wrote a bunch of inane details about themselves and their interests, websites that were indefinitely Under Construction. Back then one could run searches on particular topics and not get back any results, or at least any results of value. Certainly UseNet is looked back upon fondly by this group, but even then there was always some troublemaker that insisted on crossposting something controversial between two conflicted groups (i.e. asking a question and crossposting between an atheist and christian group so that the replies show up on both groups), never mind the more conventional trolls. Anyone looking back on AOL ought to remember that they censored the hell out of your environment there-- you got kicked off for swearing and naughty content was carefully sanitized from their download archives. Before I got on the internet, I remember a friend telling me a number of stories of how he got kicked off different BBSes for swearing and fighting with admins.
The present internet is a lot more crowded but with it there is a lot more content. More of it is crap, and more of it is precious, because there is a lot more content. It is more commercialized and there are a lot more ads, but it is a lot bigger and more sophisticated. Yes, more sophisticated. The hacker types that use math references for user names are still out there, and alongside them we have specialists and connoisseurs of every kind weighing in on every topic one can possibly think of. Without getting into the downsides and problems still faced, could you have ever imagined something quite as extensive as Wikipedia back then? Let alone all the smaller wikis created for greater detail into countless subjects?
As long as the internet thrives, it will continue to get just a little more amazing. And a little more awful.