I remember anxiously waiting several minutes, what would seem like forever now, for the Internet to dial-up and connect in order to do anything online. It was frustrating, but it was the norm, and we hadn’t just yet gotten a taste of what the future would hold; immediate connection from almost anywhere in the world at any time on any type of device. I couldn’t even imagine what it would be like having to switch back to sitting before a large, clunky desktop computer, listening to that awful sound the dial-up would make, and having to actually WAIT before I could do anything “productive” on the Web. The next generation would never understand. My youngest brother, who was born in 2003, has absolutely no idea what my siblings and I are talking about when we complain about how it used to be in the old days. None of us is even older than 20 years, but just through that short amount of time, it is incredible and mind-blowing to think and actually see how quickly the Internet and the speed/technology of our computers has advanced to this day.
The speed and quality of the graphics on computer games back then seem so outdated now. ClueFinders and Barbie Adventure Riding Club were two games (that of which I can still remember the names of) my siblings and I would drool over and we thought were the coolest things ever.
I get frustrated and start freaking out whenever the Internet connection just happens to disconnect randomly or takes slightly longer than usual, meaning by seconds, not by minutes.
Remember having to wait for about 30 minutes just to purchase and download a song off of iTunes, along with it buffering numerous times?
Some of the characteristics of new media that I encountered were the ability to personalize content, the digital aspect of malleability, and interactivity. All of these were within their own limits of the time, but it was still amazing to be able to do what you can in real life instead through a machine and screen.
I was able to create separate Internet identities and build whole new worlds for the digital me; which is probably one of my favorite memories, because it’s something you can’t really do in real life, otherwise you’re suspected of schizophrenia or of insanity.
I loved being able to download media from the Web and store it onto my own computer, and then put all that content together to make a collage or edit everything to what I wanted it to be. I made several projects in Paint, drawing and whatnot, as well as pulling in content from the Web and altering it to my satisfaction.
But I think one of my all-time favorites was the ability to log in to a site and be able to interact with people from all corners of the world; I couldn’t tell you how excited I was when I’d meet someone from China, Brazil, Poland, etc. In a strange way it made me feel closer and more connected to the millions and billions of people all over this Earth.
Thinking back on the early days of the Internet just makes me nostalgic, but also very grateful how this phenomenal and revolutionary new media has developed and how it has influenced the great big world around us.