Tag Archives: Web 2.0

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.

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Filed under December 2011

Inner Turmoil

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Filed under October 2010

Mashed Potatoes and the Internet

Today, a Facebook Friend said

 ♥ instant mashed potatoes. Yeah I do.

 Now I haven’t met this person in real life, but one of the wonders of Facebook is that such details aren’t all that important in cultivating a real friendship.  However, I told her that this love of instant mashed potatoes might be grounds for our breaking up.

Mashed potatoes are not just a high-glycemic carbohydrate.  When the tuber is boiled, combined with milk and butter, and mashed, the resultant gestalt is home, family, nurture and nature – in short, love on a plate.  If the potatoes contain a few lumps, the effect is intensified.

Piffle - NOT a great value.

Instant Mashed Potatoes go with take-out Thanksgiving Dinners and gas station champagne.  Just because somebody sells it, doesn’t mean anyone should buy it.  Some things are travesties of the spirit. 

I was a small child during that era that Mad Men is making trendy.  Dinner was at 5:00 and involved meat and potatoes most days of the week.  Sure there were buttered noodles and converted rice as well as fried, baked or boiled potatoes, but mashed potatoes were the norm. 

When we moved to Hawaii in 1967, we were met with the potato problem.  Getting spuds to the islands was expensive and they arrived rotten.  That first box of mashed potatoes entered my mother’s kitchen.  Mashed potatoes were such a norm it didn’t occur to anyone to eliminate such from the menu in the absence of real potatoes.  I suppose if for some reason Thanksgiving found me without a home-cooked feast, I would succumb to Bob Evan’s take-out offering just as I have, on occasion, succumbed to gas station champagne.  Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday and champagne my favorite party drink.  Still.  These are travesties of the spirit.

I cannot stress this enough, I am never going to post in my Facebook status that I  ♥ either one.  Let’s not get silly.

When we were stateside again, the return of real potatoes to the table was a delight.  My brother was beside himself.  He was so young when were in Kaneohe that he had no memory of real potatoes.  He fell in love with Idaho’s export.  The first thing he would do when presented with mashed potatoes was to look for lumps. 

 My mother did not use an electric mixer to mash her potatoes.  We had the tried and true masher.  And those things take work.  Only someone with a great hatred of lumps in the mashed taters would use one of those things long enough to eradicate every potato chunk.  Lumpy potatoes became a sign of non-instant potatoes.  Whoever mashed the potatoes in our house, and we took turns, did so intentionally leaving lumps.  Lumps made my brother happy. 

Lumpy potatoes = good. = great = love =somebody cares about me.

As a family, we talked about this. Lumpy mashed potatoes were explicit in our family culinary lore.  Besides lumpy, we liked our taters with enough backbone  to form a bowl to hold the gravy or the butter – none of this whipped into frothy, drippy frenzy of tortured tubers.  Oh no!  Our potatoes had character and a stiff backbone. 

My dad’s spaghetti sauce was legend.  The homemade pizza pert near.  And we were known for the taters.  Some folks ate them politely, but with varying degrees of puzzlement.  After all, we didn’t look like slovenly folk who would half mash the potatoes and be stingy with the milk.

 As my burgeoning interest in cooking collided with my anachronistic interest in 50’s music, I became obsessed with Dee Dee Sharp’s Mashed Potato Time.  A good friend and I, Charlene, made up our dance we dubbed the La Hava” which we could even do on roller skates.  We had to make up our dance because You Tube didn’t exist and we couldn’t find anybody to teach us the real Mashed Potato

The La Hava was very versatile and worked for lots of the 50’s songs we loved – Leader of the Pack, Why Must I Be a Teenager in Love and The Last Kiss.  We must have been quite a sight – our teeny bopper suburban hippy selves rocking out to my mom’s music.

Joy to the World

But before La Hava and Charlene, there was Nancy and long afternoons in my living room with a Monopoly board, iced tea, and the top-40 radio station.  We were wildly, giggly, obnoxiously in love with Jeremiah Was a Bullfrog as was much of the country.  [I was also wild about Patsy Cline, but Nancy teased me about it and I remember one horrible fight over it.]

I wonder if she remembers the day she and I, my mom and some more of our friends (including Charlene) danced around the living room to Three Dog Night.  My mom had the tambourine.  Nancy and I were using wooden fruit for microphones singing loudly and unabashedly off-key – drunk on happy music and the ridiculous sight of my mother with a tambourine.  Or maybe it was Charlene and I singing off-key.  I have this tiny, incomplete memory that Nancy may have been musically gifted.  [To this day I still don’t know why we had a tambourine – we were not then nor are we now a family gifted with even the semblance of musical ability.]

I found Nancy on Facebook the other day.  Quite by accident.  After 36 years, it will be like building a friendship.  I haven’t spent any of my adult life with people who knew me as a military brat.  Who knew me before life started settling into predictable patterns.  It will be interesting to see how building a friendship with someone I was once close to compares with building one with someone I’ve never actually met. 

Dancing to Mashed Potato Time wouldn’t have been as much fun if we hadn’t had to invent the steps.  I’m grateful You Tube didn’t exist.  I’m delighted that Facebook does so that I could reconnect with Nancy.  I’m also delighted with Facebook’s penchant to bring me friends I’ve never met.  I’ve switched to a Kitchenaid to make my mashed taters these days.  If you time it carefully, the lumps remain.  Technology preserving the old ways in new ways – if you time it carefully.

I can ask Nancy if she remembers.  I can also ask her if she knows where Charlene is.  If the La Hava becomes the next viral line dance, you’ll know we three hooked up in a bar somewhere. 

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Filed under October 2010

Faceboard Flitter Status

And since she couldn't remember, she played with photo editing software.

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Filed under October 2010

Thanette

Chef Boy ‘R Mine’s Thanette was better,
but this will have to do until I clean that damn closet.

The internet has been very good to me.

I’ve been hanging out on the ‘net since before sound and pictures – before there was a web. As for social networking, I dived into the Usenet groups somewhere around 1990.

There I met a significant number of people who became friends, sometimes good friends. The Ex referred to them as my Invisible Friends which seemed apt and so I adopted the description..

The arrival of the digital revolution was so new that home computers were a rarity; and trying to explain to folks how it could be that I was making friends was daunting. It can be a tough thing to explain. Nonetheless, I blathered on and on about my cyber-life to anyone who would listen. Over family dinner, I would talk about the funny things people said on the ‘net.

One bright Saturday the phone ring and my son, who was practicing his telephone etiquette, answered. I heard him say, “May I tell her who’s calling.” He ran to get me, proclaiming all the way that Thanette was on the phone. I searched my memory banks and could not summon any memory of anyone named Thanette or Annette or anything similar. Curious, I took the phone and said hello.

The caller was Jane who lived near Perth, Australia. She and I bonded in the rec.food.cooking group on Usenet. Chef Boy ‘R Mine, bless his heart, had listened to me babble on and on about the ‘net thinking it a person, one person, named Thanette. I asked Jane what she had told him in response to the who’s-calling-thing. She had announced herself as Jane, Jane from the ‘net. It’s curious that my son didn’t think of Thanette as a place. Of course, with her accent, it’s a wonder he understood anything at all.

I asked him to draw me a picture of what he thought Thanette looked like. The end result was a portrait of a woman with brown curly hair, glasses and a big smile. [Damn it all, I saved that artistic work and it’s probably in The Closet I’m Afraid Of. Resurrecting that drawing could be an impetus to start that project. I don’t want to start it, but I do want to find that drawing and frame it.]

My Invisible Friends were far flung. Most of them were in the states, but a good number were scattered about the globe. These were people I had never seen, but who I counted good friends – the kind you tell secrets to.

They lived in Mexico and Scotland and England and Denmark and New Zealand and Sweden and Australia and Canada and, I’m pretty sure, most of the states. Eventually, I started meeting up with people – to meet in 3D – learning what they looked and sounded like.

In the early days, my Visible Friends were shocked that I would travel, one time all the way to London, to meet people I found on the internet. They were sure my brutal death at the hands of a serial killer was an inevitable destiny given my loss of common sense.

Last night, I met and had dinner with the infamous Buzzard Billy. She represents the first Invisible Friend from West Virginia that I’ve jumped in the car to go meet. I’m sure it’s a badge of honor that she’ll wear close to her heart – Hillbilly Thanette.

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Filed under June 2010

Don’t Even Bother

Connie feels compelled to share.

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Filed under January 2010

A Conundrum

Until Connie tweaks her privacy settings, she will not be updating Faceboard Flitter.

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Filed under January 2010