Monday, August 10, 2009

august undercurrent article

Ed: Ah, the Internet. I will confess right away that I love the Internet. I wouldn’t say I’m an Internet addict, but it is a part of my daily life. Maybe a big part of my life. I mean, I surf the web, I blog, I read local blogs, I check four email addresses, and that’s all before breakfast. It’s actually hard for me to think about not being able to check the Internet on a daily basis. I recently “went off the grid” for a day – I was in an area without my laptop, my cell phone didn’t have service so I didn’t have internet there and I was devoid of internet completely. And I was alright. In fact, it sort of took me back to a time when the Internet really wasn’t a part of my life. I was able to just kick back with some friends and enjoy their company. And now, I think back on how I even got into the Internet. It was the fall of 1995, I was a freshman in college, and I was given my first email address. To check it, I would need to access the university’s website via the Internet. Since I’m there, might as well browse a bit. And I was hooked. From their I found interesting sites to either find my sports needs, to find news from around the world, and even connect with people elsewhere. What started you on the Internet, Adam?

Adam: That Internet? Shit. I'm regretting all that research I did regarding the built-in liners they sew into men's bathing suits. I kid, I kid. I got into the online world when I was young, probably around 1996 or 1997 when I set up my first HoTMaiL account (one that I still use to this day). Yes, that's right, I have an email account older than most of my friends' children. It wasn't long after that I started delving into the realm of mIRC, one of the precursors to things like AIM and Pidgin and all the myriad chat clients that daytime talk shows and nighttime news hours use to scare parents of pre-teens. Tame stuff compared to Myspace and Facebook of course. My introduction to mIRC was also my first taste of file-sharing (which eventually led to my use of Napster, which is child's play compared to what The Pirate Bay is doing these days) Of course, I set up accounts on Geocities and Tripod because I developed a fast addiction to HTML coding. If a person is lucky, I might one day direct them to my original website, complete with teen angst and the usual condescension of a 17-18 year old. And this was all before Nigerian email scams. But lest we bore our readers with nostalgia related to Intel 386 computers running on 28.8k dial-up modems, it's probably best we move on. Where do you think we will take the Internet from here? Or maybe, where will the Internet take us?

Ed: Shoot, where will the Internet take us? Well, it’s taking the two of us worldwide via blogs and our podcast. And there are things that I know will help connect people better, like Skype, that I don’t even use. In a class that I teach I give a long history of Western Civilization and how there are great markers in knowledge along the way, and how each of these markers were huge jumps in knowledge and sharing knowledge. Those markers: the advent of writing, the printing press, and the Internet. Sure, it’s a little oversimplified, but the Internet amazes me constantly how it connects us together, and we have access to knowledge everywhere. Btw, I set up a hotmail account around the same time and still use it.

Adam: I know I'm not the first to say this or the last, but the Internet has done a fantastic job of allowing more people into discussions, for better or worse. Things like Twitter are allowing people in countries whose governments typically stifle the sharing of information to bypass more traditional forms of media (see Iran and China). I think locally, barring any revolutions, it's allowing more people to share their opinions on things that vary widely, from downtown development to mixed martial arts in Woodward Park. And I think more opinions and debate in the marketplace of idea is better. I can't wait to see what great things come as a result.

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