Before the tech invaded our lives

Back when I was growing up we didn’t have most of the technology that our kids already take for granted. Affordable mobile phones only came in after I graduated from university and even then I had my contract Nokia on One2One for over a year before I even knew what a text message was. Things were simpler.

There’s been a lot of hoo-ha recently about the World Wide Web turning 25. That’s a theoretical birthday in my mind because the first proper browser that most of us used (on X-terms) didn’t come out until 1993. 1993 was my first year at university and after filling in a 3 page paper form, handing it in to someone at the computer centre and waiting a couple of days, I had access to a whole new world.

Todays XKCD makes a very pertinent point about technology:


And they’re right. So much is said about the negative side of tech- people living in online worlds, getting addicted to WoW, being bullied and so on, that the positive sides are played down. Back when I was a student, if I wanted to go to the pub with someone on a whim, I had to go and knock for them, and if they weren’t around, I had to visit all the possible haunts they might be avoiding work. Although to be fair this usually just involved walking to Cartmel Bar but that’s another story.

I remember a group of five of us sitting around watching crappy telly passing two Nintendo Gameboy’s around to sate our Tetris addiction 20 years ago, so it’s not as if this is all suddenly a new peril that we must face and endure a moral panic over. My third year dissertation was called Computer Mediated Interaction and the Reinvention of the Self for goodness sake!

Now days we get irritated when we can’t get hold of someone or get a reply about something immediately and that’s simply not what it was like way back. I think we were all a lot more bored as the strip jokes but we were also happier in our own company and not so much beholden to others as we are now.

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