Friday, 26 February 2010

Thinking about the Internet

Over the last four weeks I've been watching 'The Virtual Revolution' on the BBC. The show looks at the way the internet has changed our lives over the last 20 years... and it really has.

The first time I 'met' the internet was at University... yes, I'm of a generation that didn't have computers at school. We did have a computer lab - it was a very small room with about a dozen machines... we didn't have any classes and my interaction was limited to playing a text game at lunchtime.

At University I discovered the joy of email. My school friends and I, having spent five days a week for seven years in each other's company were scattered to the far corners of the country. Email helped keep in touch, although as the shoe-boxes under my bed will attest, letter writing was far more popular... as were calls to the community payphone.

I don't suppose the 'youth of today' can imagine the way it used to be what with the constant connectivity... Facebook, iPhones, and the rest.

I actually suffer from information overload most of the time. During the week I don't always have time for 'leisure' on the internet. Yes, I do use email and the web several hours a day in the course of my work... but Facebook and reading blogs? Forget about it!

Above is the status bar from my Firefox this morning. Over the week I have accrued 257 unread blog posts and over the last day or so 63 unread emails. Oh dear.

It is hard to remember life before the internet. It is hard to remember life before broadband and the wireless connection. I can find what I want when I want it. My first source for any reference, question or problem is the internet. Shopping, booking events, communication, leisure. You name it and it is out there somewhere in cyberspace. When I use the web I usually know what it is that I am looking for and where I'm going to find it... although I get easily distracted by other links ("Hyper-links - innovation or distraction, discuss").

doodle.png  on Aviary

The problem is that I pretty much run my life with the internet. I use Google for just about EVERYTHING... email, contacts, calendar. Keeping stuff in the cloud makes it easy to manage wherever I am. It has got to the point where my laptop and the internet are synonymous. I had to 'like' one of my Facebook friend's status updates earlier this week.

facebook_status1.egg  on Aviary