I grew up when the Internet was still young. As I am writing this post that does not seem that long ago, but I must remind myself of the people born today who will never know a world without Facebook or Twitter or Pandora or streaming video. My first encounter with the Internet was through the walled gardens of America Online back when they sent out so many CDs that people were using them for coasters and art projects. Finding people to chat with and groups to join was easy. I had little to no awareness of a world beyond those walls.
My parents grew tired of AOL, though and I was plunged into the bracing, icy waters of the Internet. There seemed to be an infinite number of pages. Who could count them? Did no one index them? I discovered the joy of crawlers and search engines. Back then if you really wanted to find something you needed to use at least three of these services to be certain that you were covering a decent number of sites. Search engines competed and some helpfully combined the results of others. No, my dears, there was no Google.
And people did not always surf the web. Even at the late date when I began to become aware of computer networks, we still sometimes used telnet to connect to BBS, a sort of discussion forum. And we connected in Usenet groups. We connected without a strong graphical interface. Discussions both profound and profane took place.
My first web page and its subsequent updates were a sort of “Hello world!” of the internet. I had pictures of myself and details about my hobbies and identity. Remember, there was no Facebook back then and even Friendster and Myspace didn’t exist. What, you were never on/never heard of Friendster? I was there, my friends.
I blogged on Xanga and later on Livejournal. Back then blogging neither meant that one was a columnnist nor a reporter. For the most part we just posted diary entries online without any thought for the consequences. Eventually it became apparent that complete transparency was not always a virtue. Blog entries led to fights and I even used them, somewhat regrettably, to strike back at those who had hurt me. Now, in the mid 2010s, a blogger is something akin to an unsigned newspaper columnist. And CNN has shows dedicated to Twitter (a micro-blogging platform).
Because I have been posting on the internet before WordPress and Facebook and Twitter, my stylistic choices may not always fit your refined 21st Century blogging expectations. Still, I will strive to be relevant here beyond my social circle and comment on the wider world. Today’s version of the Web demands it, so I shall oblige.