Before sound, color, pictures, mice and broadband OR Uli is not a serial killer

I found this video languishing in a draft post (no text) and am wondering why I never posted it.

The video is dated 1993. By 1993, I had more than 4 years of hanging out on the net.

By 1993, my family and friends were heartily sick of hearing about my Imaginary Friendsand said so. I quipped they were not imaginary, just invisible. I was hanging out long before any graphic other than an ASCII drawing was possible.

The only color was provided by the eerie green screen and the only sound the bump and grind of the modem.  No mouse, just a keyboard.  Hard drives thousands times smaller than flash drives given away as promotional items.

I’ve been a relatively early-adopter of most technologies. I held out on the cell phone (and sometimes wonder if I shouldn’t be still holding out) and was “late” to Twitter even though when I began using it while most folks still didn’t know what it was.

I resisted Facebook for a long time. Meeting folks I didn’t know and, under normal circumstances, would never know was the charm of this new frontier.  Why do I want to talk on the net to people I see regularly?  The very term, seemingly already passe, Web 2.0 irked me.

I met some wonderful folks – many who are still part of my life and some I’ve lost track of.  When Usenet (the first social network sharing site) exploded, I became an addict.  Usenet died as Web 1.0 grew.  I embraced the new, because it really was new.  It really was improved.  Until it wasn’t.

Commensurate with the rapid changes of the Internet were rapid changes to hardware and software. I kept up, for years and years and years.

I’m weary of learning curves. Very weary. Exhausted, in fact. I’m tired of new versions of software that don’t do anything of interest to me that the old version didn’t do. In fact, it seems to me that much of new software is about as new as “new” editions of college textbooks. In short, it’s all just a bunch of switching stuff around to make it look new and reap some more profit.

Contrary to my expectations, I have met folks on Facebook that I couldn’t possibly have met otherwise and I treasure some of those relationships, but Facebook has gotten on one of my last nerves. [If you’ve been reading any of my whining, you know I don’t have a lot of nerves left.]

This nonsense of “improving” the “user interface” has reached critical mass. As mentioned, I resisted Facebook for a long time. I’m an uneasy user as it is. Facebook has all but killed a listserv I love.  If they continue to change things for the sake of change, my log-in is going to get dusty.

According to something I read years ago, nostalgia sets in at about 20-30 years at which time “retro” interest kindles. Disco had a short revival early in the millennium. 80s music is (apparently) experiencing a small revival. Fashions I wore in my misspent youth are appearing on runways.

I’m advocating for a retro-net – a place where nobody knows your name and you’re judged on your ability to communicate and defend an opinion.

Yes, yes, I’m waxing nostalgic. There were assholes in the Wild West of Cyberia. “Flame Wars” were routine. Misinformation was rampant – $250 cookie recipe anyone?

But I miss it in ways I don’t miss my youth. While I took some delight in being part of a new technology that the very idea of confounded most folks, the human connection delighted me. The ideas knocked me out. Introductions to new and fascinating topics of conversation rocked my world.  At lunch with friends, I would find myself saying, “Uli was just telling me. . .”  Who’s Uli?, they would ask.  “My friend in Sweden.”  How’d you meet?  My answer would, of course, lead to shocked expressions and tales of serial killers. If you knew Uli like I know Uli, you would smile at the idea of Uli and serial killers.

I remember the amazement when it became possible to share photos – being careful to resize them.  Even with the blazing speed of a 9600 baud modem, downloading a photo could take an hour.  [My first modem was 300 baud and my first PC, by no means state of the art, was $3300 and loaded with nothing but a dos operating system.]

On Facebook, I’m more apt to get an invitation to play a stupid game before I’m offered a well-written opinion that causes me to rethink my own. Or to defend mine.

I’m offered cute pet photos, but no shaggy dog stories. I’m offered links to others’ opinions which presumably I’m to guess is shared by sharer. I’m bombarded by advertising and “friends” I only hear from when they’ve embarked on yet another MLM scheme.

Who decided 240 characters (or whatever it is) is all I need to describe my status? I sometimes need that much for a title.

While this blog gives me some of the leeway with words that I miss, it’s essentially a one-way communication. Oh how I would love to see my comment section light up with “you’re wrong and this is why” comments. Of course, that would necessitate I post something resembling an opinion that I’m prepared to defend.

Along with many of us oldtimers, I’ve gotten lazy about what I release to the wild. Perhaps because the wild has gotten too tame. Perhaps, because I have.

In any event, I miss it.

And, yes, this post is sans-graphics other than the video. Intentionally. Words rule.

7 Comments

Filed under December 2011

7 responses to “Before sound, color, pictures, mice and broadband OR Uli is not a serial killer

  1. Roseann

    It has gotten a little bland hasn’t it? I can still recall the thrill of that modem sound when it was connecting…

  2. I still love the ‘net’….the connect me to all my friends.

    • Oh, me too. Now and again, I’ll have the burning desire to figure out WHO that guy on tv is. Or, I’ll run across something in a book. What did folks do before the net? Try and sleep without knowing it was Fred Savage all grown up?

  3. Susanr

    Sigh. If I had not lost all ability to write…….or even appreciate words. I have been carrying an ee cummings book around for several weeks hoping I’ll crack it open and experience sublimity. If anyone can do that to me with words, it’s ol ee. I haven’t even been able to open it. I feel like I grew up and grew into all the stress and worry of adulthood and left behind all the wonder and circumspection of the journey. I often wonder how to reclaim it.sometimes it ekes in with a scene or a song, but not like it used to.

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