I’ve been thinking about my history with computers and the impact they’ve had on me. I grew up just as computers were becoming mainstream, the spread of the internet coincided with my teens, saw the rise of “Web 2.0” during college, and got my first smart phone a few years after college. It’s fascinating to think about how much has happened to the world since the rise of computers and the varying experiences everyone’s had.
Nearly everyone has experienced the internet but at completely different points. Some experienced it when it was just text and had to use Archie, Gopher, and telnet to discover and consume content. Others joined through the AOL floppy discs and had to get multiple land lines in order to connect over dial up. Others avoided it for as long as possible but got dragged in when joining an office. And others are only getting seeing it now due to the spread of smartphones. Age is a huge part of the experience too. First using the internet as a child is different than using it as an adult. We have our own experiences that affect our interaction and dictate the experience we’ll have.
Each experience comes with its pros and cons but I’m happy where my experience fell on the spectrum. I got to deal with the joys of DOS, floppy disks and 16 colors and was able to experience the early days of the internet with a 14.4k modem and Lycos. I do wish I could see what it was like to code in the 70s and 80s when the engineering world was much smaller and one had to deal with a ton of constraints that we currently take for granted.
I wonder whether future generations will have similar experiences to what I had or whether technological advances will either be too predictable and make change appear gradual or not significant enough to warrant attention. I believe I got lucky since so many of the advances were consumer oriented and pro-hacker. Hopefully that the future brings more of the same.