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Thursday, June 28, 2007

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That's an interesting question...I remember using Netscape (rather than explorer) for the first time in about 1995, when people used to talk about the 'information superhighway'. There was this sense of a vast universe being out there but not quite knowing where to find the bits that might be of interest. I was really more into emailing and chatrooms before I started navigating the internet.

As for writing essays by hand -- I'd be lucky to be able to read any of it. There's certain aspects of editing that computer technology has obviously made a whole lot easier. Word processing has become so much a part of me, I can hardly imagine writing without it.

I first went surfing the www when Jerry Garcia died (1995?) and my brother found a website about the Dead for me - I looked at it and started following links... I remember being amazed by all the stuff out there, and also never seeming to get anything actually read because there were too many links to follow.

I'd just come back from living in the States at the time and was staying with my mum, who didn't have internet access, so it wasn't for another year or two that I got my own access. Still, I can hardly remember what it felt like not to be 'connected'.

And as for writing essays by hand! I did do that for the first year and a half of my undergrad degree, but I can hardly imagine it now. I do still occasionally do creative writing by hand, but usually it's on the computer. I often do extensive edits on paper though.

I too, found the web in 1994 or 5, when I was living in London. But I've never managed to get into use.net etc - only ever the world wide web.

I remember trying to persuade the small (100 or so employee) company I worked for in 1996 that they really should get an email address, and then perhaps email between employees. It took a while.

As for typing - I've always been a 100 words a minute typist and a terrible writer-by-hand. I've been typing everything possible since my mid-80s university days.

I'm reading a World War II history at the moment, and it's amazing me how little everybody knows about what is happening elsewhere in the world.

I always found writing things out slowed me down because my mind was racing faster than I could write. And then I couldn't read my handwriting half the time. I found doing written exams in recent years a bit weird after doing all the other work on the computer. It was a bit of a shock to my poor left hand, trying to write for 1-2 hours.

I was going to write about my early online experience but I was a bit verbose...I'll just say I first was online in the late '80s so it has changed a lot. Will probably post about that myself soon.

Will try this again. Keep trying to write something but either get interrupted or hit a wrong key or something and lose it all.

Anyway, I first used the Internet back in 1988-89 when R got a modem to access his uni account. He used it for work and I used it to "surf". I became pretty good with basic Unix commands back then and could ftp files with no help at all. The web browser (Lynx) was completely text-based and I became a proficient web surfer, I guess. Most of the sites available must have been universities, government, and similar. I don't recall many commercial sites. It was very much like peering into a secret world and having pathways all over the world. It was also like having an exclusive membership, in a way. Years later when the WWW came out, it was like having your secret hideaway invaded.

Anyway, we signed up with a couple online services over the next few years. First was Genie where we paid $6 an hour to use their services. No Internet access though. Then there was the great plan through Delphi (20 hours for $20). At some point Delphi offered Internet access, but it was still using text-based browsers.

A short while after we came to Australia in 1994, we spent $500 for a 2400 baud modem to access a uni account locally and later accessed our own dial up through Apana. After D was born, I used to read the newsgroups for parenting, mainly misc.kids. I also signed up on parent-l, a list for breastfeeding moms and attachment parenting. Being in a new country with a young baby, I was very isolated and this became one of my main social outlets. Much of what I know about breastfeeding came through the experience there.

I don't recall the point when we started using a graphical browser. We had been on Atari and Amiga computers and I think we did try out the graphical browsers but I have no idea which ones they were. I do know that by the end of 1997, my parents had gotten a computer and Internet access. It was just after I had suffered through the fetal demise of my second pregnancy and was spending heaps of money on overseas phone calls. This progress made communication so much easier for us. I also made use of online support groups for pregnancy loss while I needed it. I don't quite know how I might have coped without it. I think having a certain anonymity really helped in that situation.

Most of the groups I had joined back then, I left after some time. Mostly because I didn't need them any longer. The due date list for N was different. I wasn't active before he was born but I have kept involved to varying degrees since then and have a number of people who I consider friends that I have never met. It's always interesting to consider how likely I would be friends with some people if I knew them in person. It's really hard to know. I think in that group, there's been a certain amount of sharing that I did from an earlier stage than I might have in person. Even though we "knew" each other, there was still a certain amount of anonymity. It's a very different type of interaction than face to face relationships.

I can't think of more significant changes since N was born. Everything is bigger and faster...also there are a number of different websites that seem to become fads...And it is interesting to consider how recently Google replaced Excite and Altavista for my searches.

On reflection, I think the Internet has given me the tools to become more social than I have ever been. Not that I've been a loner but I am pretty shy when meeting people and in bigger groups. I think the anonymity has played a part in allowing me to become more outgoing...although I still find myself feeling shy, even online. R finds that really weird but I don't.

Anyway, that's experience in a rather big nutshell.

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