I got up to find Rose B. Fischer’s post My Life and the Evolving Internet: Musings of a Thirtysomething. I had almost been thinking about the topic because of her recent Tumblr post. Rose’s post made me think about how my personal use of computers and the Internet has evolved since I was a child.
I turn thirty year old by the end of this year. I was born the same year as Apple’s first Macintosh and my father purchased its second model the summer before my birth. It was his introduction to the computer (he was in his forties back then) and it later was mine. So I always lived with a computer at home. I was lucky to get introduced to it when I was around two year old, so I got pretty comfortable with it from a young age.
Saying that I was born in a geek family is quite accurate, from my father who has a thing for new technology to my mother who is an avid Science Fiction reader (and watcher). Having used computers for almost three decades, I am sometimes still mind blown of all that has happened in this time span. I remember when in 2000, I saw an old Macintosh as the one I’m using on the picture, in a museum. My father and I were all nostalgic for a moment, before laughing about how he was so proud back then because he had upgraded the RAM of the computer and it actually had 1MB.
I moved through different older Macintosh when a child and a teenager and remember how ecstatic I was when getting an iMac when I was in high school, a couple of years before I was the first in the house to have a PC. Up to that day, my father is Apple and I am Windows. I have nothing against Apple, but I didn’t have good experiences the last time I relied on their computers. I like my iPod though. It is really a personal preference and also because my video editing software is Windows.
I was introduced to the Internet only when I was in late high school, when I was 17. The one thing that made me start browsing the net for real (in the good dial-up days)? I was in shock by Aeryn Sun’s death at the end of the second season of Farscape, and I needed spoilers for the third season in hope that she would come back (which she did). I had a casual use of the Internet for a few years and have really been online in a regular fashion since I started vidding and set up my website back in summer/Fall 2005. I had a few sites since then, interacted on several boards, did research for university and my work, used social media, and so on.
To be honest, I find that social media can easily be intrusive even now. I understand how great it can be, but since I cut down from many online places within the last two years, I find things are much more enjoyable and manageable. I now incorporated my vidding into my professional site here, and otherwise have my YouTube channel. Even for YouTube, I was quite a late bloomer at posting there, as I only started last year. Before, I always hosted videos elsewhere. In terms of social media, I mostly keep LinkedIn as an online CV. My Facebook is locked down as much as it is possible by the system and I don’t use it as part of my professional/public presence. Besides my website, I mostly use Twitter, which positively surprised me when I really got into it, especially for networking. I am grateful for the existence of Skype for planned calls, but I value email more than any Instant Messaging services.
What I like best about the “new” technologies, as with the Internet, is the choice we get. I love having powerful computers with certain specs, especially for gaming and video editing. I hope to get a tablet at some point to carry with me. Yet, I am pretty old fashioned when it comes to cellphone for example. I got my first one when I was fifteen and when I see old cellphones in early 90’s movies or TV shows, they don’t seem that far away. I still don’t have a fancy smartphone. I can check emails on mine, but I know it makes some of my friends laugh. I am okay with it. To me a cellphone is used for texting and calling. I’d much rather use a decent screen to do anything online or read. Same when it comes to mp3/video players. I much prefer having my tiny Ipod nano (old generation) that only does music. I prefer having at least a laptop screen to watch videos. To me this is all about personal preferences and the use you make of the technology.
When I was in high school (I graduated in 2002), we barely had a couple of computer labs and it was extremely basic and I’m not even sure they mentioned Internet back then. To be honest, it still feels that we are behind when it comes to the Internet in France, even now in 2014. My French university had a horrifying website when I first joined end of 2005. By now it is decently navigable, but it took years to say the least. I always find English or American university sites much more ergonomic and practical. When I did my second master’s in the UK in 2008/2009 and saw all the computers (with Internet), I was in geek heaven to be honest. I was used to have good computers at home and be online on a regular basis for many different reasons, but seeing that in a university settings was outstanding (and kind of makes me feel as if I had come from some backwater place).
The interesting thing is that I can’t follow a class with my laptop on. I mostly work on the computer now, including when it comes to my writing, but I just can’t type notes while listening to someone. I need to write them by hand. Even if a class doesn’t interest me that much, I enjoy not having something distracting me. Now I did take notes about other things on separate sheets of paper on more than one occasion, but I find that focusing on a screen device during a class is weird. Maybe I am old fashioned and this isn’t a judgement, but it’s not something I could do. It is just the way I process things. It it also why I am glad I can access content online for some of my research, I always prefer having a hard copy book in my hands so I can takes notes in the margins or in the beginning, highlight things. I need the physical aspect of it for my research work.