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10 things from 2006 that didn't have the staying power of OpenLearn

Updated Wednesday, 10th February 2016

In October 2016, OpenLearn will turn 10. To get the celebrations started, we look back at 10 trends from 2006 that didn't quite make it to 2016...

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1: Woolworths

Woolworths Camberwell exterior Creative commons image Icon By The original uploader was Secretlondon at English Wikipedia (Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons.) [GFDL, CC-BY-SA-3.0 or CC BY-SA 1.0], via Wikimedia Commons under Creative-Commons license

Woolies was the shop of dreams in the early noughties. You could browse through an abundance of Chad Valley toys, get bargain homewares and (most importantly) fill your boots with Candy King pick ‘n’ mix. Sadly, Woolworths started making store closures in 2008 when it was unable to compete with online retail giants, such as Amazon. 

2: MySpace

MySpace interface Creative commons image Icon pseudoplacebo under CC-BY-SA licence under Creative Commons BY-SA 4.0 license

Back in 2006, when Facebook was still a toddler, we were all signed up to MySpace and our very first virtual friend was a guy named Tom. Fast-forward ten years and now Mark Zuckerberg’s creation is the most popular social networking site with over 1.8 billion monthly active users. So long, Tom! 

3: Smoking in public places

Smoke by a window in a pub Creative commons image Icon By Attribute to "Robert Aleck," (Taken by Mnbf9rca on English Wikipedia) [CC BY-SA 2.5], via Wikimedia Commons under Creative-Commons license

In 2006 you could pop to your local pub for a swift half after work and return home smelling like an ashtray. In July 2007 it became illegal to smoke in all enclosed work places in England. Wales and Northern Ireland had already put bans in place in April 2007. Technically Scotland had already established a ban in March 2006.  

4: Blockbuster

blockbuster store closing Creative commons image Icon Consumerist Dot Com under CC-BY-2.0 licence under Creative-Commons license

Not to be confused with the UK game show! Blockbuster provided home movie and video game rental services to the public and was at its peak in the mid noughties. Due to stiff competition from the likes of Netflix, Blockbuster filed for bankruptcy protection in 2010 and started closing its stores. 

5: Tiny mobile phones

Mototola Razr 2 side Creative commons image Icon Dan under CC-BY-NC licence under Creative-Commons license

Mobile phones were getting smaller and sleeker every year since they were first sported by Yuppies in the 80s. By 2006 we had an array of super light, thin and tiny flip phones and mobiles with pull out keyboards. Ten years later, though, and phones are more like computers now with the likes of the iPhone and Samsung Galaxy – both larger in size than the phones of 2006. 

6: The Da Vinci Code

Dan Brown’s conspiracy-detective novel was the best-seller in 2006 with a film adaptation, starring Tom Hanks, released in the same year. However, it received much criticism from respected authors such as Salman Rushdie and Stephen King over its incorrect portrayal of history. In 2016 the most popular books tend to be trilogies about science fiction and so outlandish that nobody can accuse them of being historically inaccurate! 

7: LimeWire

LimeWire 2 interface Copyright free  image Icon Copyright free: By The original uploader was Yarnalgo at English Wikipedia [GPL], via Wikimedia Commons

Back in the day when we wanted a free means of listening to our favourite tunes, we’d have to download tracks from not-so-legal file sharing sites like Napster and LimeWire - or at least until a U.S. federal court judge issued an injunction ordering LimeWire to prevent downloading of music on its site. Nowadays we have free access to music streaming sites like Spotify, or, for only a small monthly fee, can access premium services like Apple Music or Tidal. Genius! 

8: The Atkins diet

Atkins meal Creative commons image Icon Amontillado from fi [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons under Creative-Commons license

The low-carbohydrate diet became increasingly popular in the mid-noughties and declines in pasta and rice were blamed on the best-selling diet plan. However in 2016, diet inspiration is more often taken from popular #eatclean posts on Instagram and with greater awareness and emphasis of allergies and intolerances to wheat or dairy, these are more likely to be reduced in diets. There’s also been a surge in vegetarianism and veganism where the Atkins-style meaty diet is not appropriate. 

9: Lance Armstrong

Lance Armstrong Creative commons image Icon By de:Benutzer:Hase (Self-photographed) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons under Creative-Commons license

Lance Armstrong was once a cancer survivor turned cycling star, idolised by millions across the world. In 2006 he had a bunch of Tour de France titles. He also founded the inspirational LiveStrong Foundation to assist other cancer survivors. His hero status turned sour in 2012 however when an investigation concluded Armstrong had used performance-enhancing drugs throughout his career. As a result, he received a lifetime ban from competing in all sports and was stripped of all his sporting achievements post- 1998. Doping still remains a problem in sport today. 

10: Tuning in to your favourite TV series every week


Ten years ago, we’d all set our alarms to tune into the new episode of the most talked about series at that time (probably Desperate Housewives or Grey’s Anatomy) only to be left on a cliff-hanger and wait in suspense for the next episode to air a whole week later. Now we can binge-watch House of Cards or Making a Murderer for hours upon hours, thanks to subscription sites like Netflix or Now TV.    

The Open University launched OpenLearn, a website dubbed 'The home of free learning', in October 2006 and since then it has gained over 40 million unique users and won awards recognising its array of valuable free learning content.
To celebrate OpenLearn's 10th anniversary, we are releasing a new listicle centralised round the number 10 on the 10th of every month in the 10 month lead up to October. Check out our Ten Years of OpenLearn hub to enjoy even more free learning!





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