Thursday, February 07, 2013

Once Upon a Time on the Internet....

Feeling generally disgruntled with Google, Microsoft et al and the ways the computer experience has changed since first I owned a home computer, I began reminiscing.

October 2001 it was when I first dipped my toes into the internet pool. I'd used a computer at work for several years, but we were not linked to the internet, that was to be new and exciting territory. Because I was short of space at home I bought a rather avant garde all-in-one computer, made in London by a small independent outfit. It has taken more than 10 years for the big boys to start selling something similar. My computer worked fine most of the time, but as it was experimental it needed some fine tuning, had to be shipped back to the manufacturer for repair twice over a period of 3 years. Windows ME (millennium edition) was the operating system I used then, it was not well-thought of by most would-be experts who swore by Win98. ME worked for me.

Initially I got myself caught in the AOL net - AOL was a big deal back then, and was probably introduced to me as part of the Windows package. For a while it seemed to me that AOL was the internet. There were newsrooms, chat rooms, message boards, and other seminal social networking bits and pieces. I became an accepted member of a small discussion and writing group who produced some amusing narratives, parodies, games and pieces of prose. That was fun! Gradually I found my way around the net, discovered Google, Wikipedia, and Amazon, along with a few astrology websites and message boards.

I did eventually break loose from the AOL enclave and found my way around what in those days seemed more like a village or small town. It now seems like a teaming, screaming over-populated metropolis, so I choose to remain inside fairly narrow confines - in real life too. It's a jungle out there in both the real and virtual world, the natives can be restless and ruthless, also often idiotic, and not in a good way.... off their trolleys, out there circling Jupiter!

Too much of a good thing?

I suppose the net's huge international metropolis is the same as any real life metropolis: people tend to stay within their own neighbourhoods and communities much of the time, venturing out only on special occasions for a particular purpose. So, in fact, the net is only as wide and as deep as one's desired reach. Even though I was not around at the very beginning, seeing it grow so rapidly has been a wee bit disconcerting. Main big-name players back then were friendly, seemed akin to good next door neighbour types, always helpful, always ready for fun, always there when needed. Those same big names have now become overbearing, dictatorial, loud and demanding.

Such is life!

If television's a babysitter, the Internet is a drunk librarian who won't shut up.
― Dorothy Gambrell, Cat and Girl Volume I

The internet is just a world passing notes around a classroom.
― Jon Stewart
(I'd relate that description, more precisely, to Facebook.)

Distracted from distraction by distraction
― T.S. Eliot

Attention is the limited resource on the internet - not disk capacity, processor speed or bandwidth.
― Mills Davis


♥ Sonny ♥ said...

I think the fact that 80% of the people on the internet today are trying to make money is whats changed it from a friendly village to a competitive world, or that's my take on it anyway.
Money corrupts and the hope of More Money corrupts absolutely~!
I search many time for a group I could join online of just friendly folks to talk to, share hopes, dreams and even fears with- as yet, I havent found it.

I hope one day I do as I am not real good at dealing with the outside world.

Surely somewhere out there, people like me are searching for the same thing.

mike said...

Well, I couldn't agree with you more, Twilight! And ditto for Sonny's comments about big money, more money.

Both television and the internet experience seem a sad parody of real life. Both have the capacity to enlighten the recipients in a marvelous, positive way...unfortunately, the end-result is more often than not a pile of thrice-used coffee grounds.

I am fascinated by the availability of information, much of it useful. I research many topics, usually scientific, and I consider most of my searches to be teasers...I am able to view the summary or abstract, but I typically am required to have membership or pay-per-view (or both!) for the full article. It seems the only free information out there is offered only if it helps to sell the subject.

As I stated in a recent comment regarding a posting of yours, I have a website and e-commerce, which puts a lot of money into my host's pocket away from mine! Search engines have their way of extracting $ from me, too, as does the credit card portion of the e-commerce.

Information mining has been a big money maker for the past twenty or thirty years, but fits like a glove on internet users. Google and Facebook seem to be over-sized offenders, but all of that genre are equal. Google tracks on-line site visits and shares that information with various sites (for a fee)...that site then knows what your desires are and makes recommendations and pricing accordingly. Products that I have searched and viewed on various sites previously will appear on non-related sites, usually as side-advertisements on blogs...that's Google at work.

Twilight, your website has Google tracking. Did you know that? When I download your home page, the download information appears in the lower left-hand corner and Google has two applications that download simultaneously! I am not a "follower" of your site, nor joined by membership, as this is another Google application on your site. Ad block plus is free for Firefox and blocks Google and the irk from tracking me.

I liken the internet experience you describe in the early 2000s as the mom-and-pop stores, with ample individualized assistance available, if needed...personalized. The internet experience of the past seven years or so is like Walmart, Bank of America, red light district, and a frat party all rolled into one.

mike (again) said...

Perhaps I was being too unkind in my previous comment. I enjoy reading your blog...impossible without the internet electrons...and there are several other blogs I read daily.

Against my earlier concerns, I have become a devout online bill-payer and I like my online banking. I do save postage to the chagrin of the post office's impending bankruptcy. No identity theft yet!

I like the ability to spontaneously order anything I desire (and can afford). Likewise for the window-shopping at a gazillion sites.

The internet is an excellent source of varied interpretations of the same news-worthy event and I'm often exposed to a different viewpoint or thinking process.

Vitriol abounds...usually in comment sections. I read an online article about all of the hate that has become a part of the typical comment sections...certainly enhances the polarity of the commenter stated that this, too, is part of the digital age evolution process.

Wisewebwoman said...

I guess I come from a completely different viewpoint than you. All this online technology is usually provided 'free' and the cost is the targeted ads which I basically ignore apart from the games I play on FB with other users where we list the ads on our sidebar- Daughter who has MS was targeted with funeral homes (we laughed) and moi? with my elder bucks: Walmart and wait for it - a trip to Scotland.
Blogger and FB have to paid for somehow, though I see them fail as a business model.
Oh sorry, this is your blog, I should do a post of my own on this. :)

Twilight said...

Sonny ~~ As always, we must "follow the money", yes.

I think Facebook tolled the death knell on some of the old forums and groups which used to offer kindred spirits a place to gather. If they still exist they are shadows of what they once were. Participants are now hereded into the one big FB corral; I'm not prepared to go there.

I think FB will disintegrate eventually, though the internet moguls will have another corral ready prepared by then for refugees.

Twilight said...

Mike ~~ Your website is your own though, Mike, but this blog is hosted by Blogger (one of the Google stable) and is free to me and all who use the platform. I'm not even required to carry adverts unless I wish to - and I will not do so.

So, there has to be some way for Blogger/Google to get money from their creation. I'm not particularly bothered by the "following me around" thing, being bombarded with ads for stuff I've just been looking at.
Sorry, though, that the blog tracks you - but I don't think I can do anything about it my end without being thrown off Blogger. ;-)

Like you, I'm noticing more sites where payment is required to read a piece in full - I guess that's down to an oncoming demise of the newspaper industry - they'll have to get their money elsewhere now there isn't a newsboy on every corner.

I've also noticed just recently that there is more aggressive advertising on sites, even when pop-ups are blocked some ad will slide across, or appear before one can access the full site.
TV ad. breaks seem to have become
more frequent and long lasting than they were a couple of years ago too.

Good description in your last paragraph!


mike (again)

Well, yes there are great advantages to the net, even with its frustrations. Banking and shopping are made simple for those who live out of town.
Information is everywhere, on all topics (some may be BS of course, but that's true in every sphere as well as the net).

I enjoy reading comments under new stories almost as much as the articles themselves. Not too keen on Disqus commenting system though - again it's linked up to Google, Facebook etc. Handy when they come looking for those they see as dissidents??? ;-(

It ain't all bad - I just preferred it in its earlier incarnation.

Twilight said...

Wisewebwoman ~ My viewpoint is really just that I preferred the net when it was smaller, early on, WWW. The Big Players then seemed less grasping, more helpful and the net seemed generally more friendly in atmosphere.

Yes, I appreciate that Blogger et al have to earn their keep (and more) from their creations. I have always been happy to partake of Blogger's free platform (apart from the time they "updated" interface) and Google searches for free - no cash money anyway. They have ways of making us pay - most of which are fairly painless.

Kaleymorris said...

I'm going to borrow your Internet librarian quote and share in one of those places you don't like to visit.

Twilight said...

Kaleymorris ~~ Jolly good!
It should feel right at home there, which is more than can be said for me. ;-)

Chomp said...

“Distracted from distraction by distraction”
― T.S. Eliot

Fascinating quote...

Well I remember times before the XXst Century beginning (Do you remember the Y2K affair...), all along the Ninties, when the Internet was of not so many as today...

I remember the conspiracy theorists of those days, as many of those theories have been recycled in last times vis-a-vis the continuation of “Ye Great Crisis” (YGC), which will last and continue for some time still, told by-the-way and said “en passant”, the “heroic times” of the World Wide Web, a pioneering time as I remember, fascinating indeed ...

Twilight said...

Chomp ~~ Hi! Oh yes, Y2K, I remember reading about it; in the end all was well - another storm in a teacup. :-) Internet loves to brew up storms!

I missed out on the 90s internet, but my husband talks about it sometimes - how basic it all was then.

I do still remember when computers themselves were new and amazing though(they still are, too!)
One of the guys (accounting type) I worked with in 1966 was sent on a course to learn about computer technology. He came back all excited about it - telling us about the binary code and other stuff, as we all gathered around thinking "what good can 100111001100 ever do for us?"