Categories
Technology

Daddy? What was the world like before the internet?

There’s a huge discussion on Fark.com based on a brilliant question:

Youngish [Fark user] has no comprehension what her adult life would be like without the internet or computer technology. Describe your pre-internet life

It’s a brilliant question because the potential answers are so big. Baby Bigmouth wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for the internet – I met Mrs Bigmouth online – and my job wouldn’t exist without it either. And yet the whole thing has happened in a very short space of time, so Baby B was born into a world where the things we already take for granted – broadband, YouTube, Google, iTunes, Facebook – are all just a few years old. And eventually she’s going to ask me, what were things like before the internet?

What would you say? Would you sound like a Daily Mail reader, hankering for a simpler time? Or would you be more like the Yorkshiremen in the Monty Python sketch where they exaggerate the awfulness of their upbringings? Is answering the question like trying to explain what the world was like before fire, electricity and the wheel?

12 replies on “Daddy? What was the world like before the internet?”

In my previous job in the council education dept, I used to get a day skiving to go to the careers thing in one of the local high schools (where my sister works). It was so the second years could decide what subjects they were going to choose through the medium of talking to folk from a variety of jobs.

In variably the same question would turn up (obviously one of the examples given to them by teachers as all they really wanted to know was what you earned and whether you’d ever killed a man):
“Did you always want to be a web developer?”
“Actually, when I was your age we didn’t have the internet.”
“That’s what my dad always says too. I don’t believe him either.”

Tell me about it. I had a brief spell as the worst telesales caller in the whole of the world.

I was a librarian. I remember attending a workshop when the Web was first demonstrated. This is nice, I said, but what would you do with it? I also remember when another librarian on a listserv suggested we all try something new called, “google.”

Of course, I remember when I wore high heels to work, too.

I used to read these strange big unwieldy things made out of paper with lots of characters and pictures that didn’t move printed on them every weekend. Sometimes I even read them during the week.

I believe they were called newspapers?

There is another very basic argument against ebooks. My toddler has spent her entire life seeing me sitting in my desk in the corner staring at a screen. She needs to see me reading books on the sofa, not curling up with yet another screen.

I’ve got a better argument against kids and laptops: the devastation baby-food fingers can inflict on a Powerbook.

I think it’s all about moderation. I rarely use a machine when Baby B’s around – separate office for work, don’t use the non-work stuff until she’s in bed.

Leave a Reply