This post over on Pandagon, plus an email from my favorite nephew, got my thinking about life online.
Y'all remember life before the net.
Well, maybe you don't.
I do -- when I wrote my dissertation, pre-net, I didn't own my own computer. mr. delagar schlepped his into the duplex up in Fayetteville we were not exactly sharing (we had just gotten married and still weren't living together, a long story) and forced me to learn to write on it: up to that point, I was still writing on an IBM Selectric. It was 1994.
Research? You went to a building called a library, looked up sources in huge tomes known as indices (b/c I was doing classics, mines were often in French -- though just the titles, not the actual index itself) and then -- oh, this was rich -- you had to send away for the actual sources, though this deal called Interlibrary Loan. It took weeks, sometimes, and that was if the source could even be found.
My first computer, one I owned myself, was a second-hand laptop which my father-in-law, of blessed memory, gave me. Family upgrade, we call this. This was in 1996. It did not have internet capability. I am pretty sure we still did not know what an internet was then. I used that laptop for years.
I began hearing rumors about something called e-mail and something called the net -- or a web, was it? -- around 1997. My students in Idaho kept telling me they had sent me something called links, or that they could do searches and find things "like that." Un-huh, I would say. Whatevcr.
In 1998, I got a tenure-track job in North Carolina, and was given an office with a computer in my office which had internet capability -- also, because I was the sole faculty member under fifty, I got assigned to become the internet expert. (Remember, I didn't even known what a fucking internet was. Net? Web? Intertubes? What are these things you speak of?) But I hopped on and built me a webpage and started messing about with chat-lines (remember chatlines?) and never looked back.
Now? Someone asks me a question about the bird's nest soup, or wonders what I think of Obama as a candidate, do I think about libraries or pulling a book off a shelf? Shit no. I open my hotlink to Wikipedia and say, well, let's see.
What was life like before we linked up? I barely remember. And, at home? When my net goes down? Yikes. You don't want to be around me then. I'll do without AC, I'll do without coffee, food is an option, but don't be taking away my highpeed internet connection, and I ain't messing, either.