Non writing pursuits

Being online, a retrospective

Coming up quick on my 34th birthday, and having just tried Twitter, I find myself reflecting on the fact that I’ve been online about 15 years now. I went online for the first time in my first couple of years in University, which was when I was 19. Back in those days, it was email, accessed by Macs (those all in one deals, with only the keyboard being seperate), accounts booted up on disk.

Other times I accessed via a friends partner’s work computer, which was vaguely faster, but still rather slow. You had to wait for 50k images to load. No. No porn. Just basketball images. I was really into the NBA back then.

Third year in uni and I was browsing and emailing from my computer science labs. I should have been doing more MIPs programming, but the labs were filled with net users. Things were still slow, and there was still a 3.5″ disk involved for saving your various bits and pieces.

I had my own PC all that time, but it was uncommon for them to ever be online. In my third year of uni, I got myself an external modem. I remember it was something free from work, but it allowed me to access the net from home, and introduced me to that classic dialing noise for the first time.

33.4k dialup was how I lived for a very long time. I was on Netscape, back when there was a Netscape. Back when IHUG was an ISP based out of a garage. ICQ was my main form of communicating with people, as it was for a lot of people. Email was still fairly in vogue, although instant messaging was becoming the way to do things.

No social networking for many, many years to come.

I became a web designer. Everyone had web pages. Everyone knew how to do HTML because WUSIWUG editors (there’s one for you) had not yet come into vogue. Geocities wasn’t owned by Yahoo. Yahoo was the best way to search the net. I got my news from USAToday.

What happened in the middle? I can’t remember. Lots of growth. Explosive really. Somewhere in there the dot com bubble grew and burst. No one had personal webpages, as something came along called MySpace. Social networking.

Yuck. Don’t much like it. Why? Well, I think I have better relationships with people on the street than I do with potential social networkers. And as for it being a good way to stay in touch with friends, I’m still rooted in email. And if I need quicker contact, well. Do you have MSN? GTalk? AOL? Pidgin lets me run almost every IM under the sun.

I have MySpace. I don’t use it much. It took even longer for me to go to Bebo, mostly because a lot of my family were on it. Rack up more friends who don’t contact me beyond accepting my add. I lose interest in that two.

Meanwhile, I’ve had a few blogs. I’ve avoided Facebook because of my lack of social ability on the other social networking sites. Maybe it’s the introvert kid in me?

Somewhere in there, I finally, and a huge time after everyone else came to broadband. I’ve never needed a huge amount of bandwidth to keep up with my side of the interwebs.

Along comes Twitter. Always seemed like a bit of a naff idea. But a good writing friend of mine pointed out its a great was to advertise ones writing website, so I’ve tried it. And there it is, sitting on the right hand side of my blog.

People actually use this thing? I have been fascinated by one of my old time favourite DJs, DJ Sirvere, as he gets up, watches TV, takes his kids to the park, comes home and gets ready for his radio show tonight … curious. It’s sorta like instant messaging. Except without me having to type ‘what are you doing right now?’ and hitting enter, waiting for the reply.

Almost ready to turn 34 and I have to say, I am still very much an email guy. It’s how I start my day and how I tend to end it. I still have my ranks of websites I check, but RSS had gathered them all in one place. Now I go to Guardian for my news. The net has changed quite a bit I guess. But I don’t know that I have.

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One thought on “Being online, a retrospective

  1. I’m with you – I love my email, and think I always will.
    I deleted my Myspace account because I never used it. I find something really odd about connecting with people from your past – I tend to think that for the most part if you’re not still in contact with your old school buddies, there is probably a good reason. As exciting as it can be to connect with them, I’ve never found a friendship that was renewed through social networking sites.
    I have bebo, I never log on. I have facebook, every now and then I remember to jump on and do some updates. I have twitter, that’s easily forgotten too.
    Email, instant messengers – does that make us old school? Is that more direct/non public contact uncool now for some reason?

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