Wednesday, July 30, 2008

is it really better?

This article caught my eye today "10 things you should know about the internet". I enjoy learning about the origin of things; I tend to think it helps me understand the subject better. If it wasn't for the History channel, Discovery channel, Science channel and Military channel I wouldn't know crap.

This caused me reflect back on my first interaction with the internet. Remember pre-internet? Back then if you said "I'll google it" someone would have thought you were going to prepare a dish containing eggs. Or, more likely, they would have thought you were just an idiot.

I lost my internet cherry sometime in August 1991. I recall that date simply because at the time I was living in Okinawa, Japan and needed to look up some information on vehicles before moving back to the states. I can't recall how I got the subscription, but I used CompuServe to try and locate the information I needed. Good thing I was trying it a few months in advance, because it took FOREVER to download simple text and a couple of very tiny images.

I don't think I ever found what I was looking for. But man, I thought that was so cool! It was like tapping into this other world where I was the driver. If I had enough time (again... it was freaking slow!) I could go basically anywhere. I think at the time it would have taken about 3 days to reach the end of the internet with an average of 1 page per hour.

Fast forward 17 years (damn, it’s been that long...) and the internet has been my career for 13 of those years. So much of my life has been shaped by this thing you can't touch or smell that it's impossible to imagine myself without it.

I say this with a little trepidation. As amazing as it is, as much as I believe it has made the world smaller. It’s opened so many windows for me where before only existed walls. But, I wonder if it's actually made us better.

Case in point. I am writing this 10 feet from my wife, whose career is also intertwined with the net. Like most nights after the kids are in bed we sit here working on our respective laptops, clicking away on the keyboard and occasionally saying something to ourselves while some show is on TV in the background. When it gets really pathetic I'll IM her to see if she wants a drink (but only when I want to be a smartass...). I can say I only know 2 out of our 5 nearest neighbors well enough to call them by name.

I wonder what my granddad would say if he was here. My grandfather worked at the stockyards in Oklahoma City for his entire life. He could literally touch and smell his work. I once tried to explain to him what I did. Here is how he wrapped it up:

Him - what do you do if the electricity goes off?
Me - hmmm. I guess I can't work.
Him - then you don't really have a job.

I wonder if the same thing applies to life in the internet age.

2 comments:

Dana said...

Great post - I too wonder what the business world would be like without the internet. LMAO about IMing your wife - Hubby and I occasionally have our little tifts and the battle ground = email. It really says something, doesn't it. I remember going to Germany for a semester in 1994 and people from bigger colleges had EMAIL - what the heck was that? I got back to school in the fall and we had *GASP* DOS based email. Now one day get me started about cell phones...then I will really pull my soap box out.

dadthedude said...

Hey dana, check it out I found your soap box! Get on it!

My wife now just looks at me when I IM her and says "... seriously?".

I then type in "uh huh" and hit send.