Although I can’t pull off a “s’up” or wear baggy trousers round my bum, I am, in fact, old school.
Old school geek and social networker, that is.
Until the age of 8 (or 1982) I spent most of my time outdoors, playing with legos, drawing, creating forts and reading. But then a friend of the family who was an engineer got a Commodore 64 and while the parents talked politics after dinner, I sat and hacked away at that thing. In 1984 my school bought a couple of Apple II computers, one of which I ended up hogging for hours on end and staying after school so that I could code and code to make that little turtle move around and make pretty things.
After a couple of years of pestering my parents for a computer, “a compu-what?” my father took me to some office supply warehouse where a man began to talk to my father about what he had in stock. My father stopped the man, pointed to me and said, “You need to talk to her.” The salesman looked at me; the littlest, blondest girl in the biggest dress you ever saw wanted to talk floppy drives, memory and modem speed. I was so incredibly proud when I put in an order for some hacked together PC-clone. A month later we picked it up and I began coding games and small programs in DOS Basic between going to school, building forts in the forrest and putting dresses on Barbies.
In 1986 I discovered local BBS (bulletin board systems) in which you’d use your modem (at the time, 300 baud) to connect to another modem that hosted a site so you could talk to people. This was pre-world wide web days. Most of the people I talked to were guys who were outcasts because they were geeks. It wasn’t yet cool or lucrative. In fact, one tended to be rather quiet about owning a computer or worse yet, being a modemmer! Yet these geeks taught me a lot about computers and coding and, since they were local, about connecting the virtual world to a real one. I started arranging local meet-ups for us from playing sports on the weekend to attending special events. I didn’t think being online had to be separate from the real world.
Over the next few years I kept progressing with coding and modem speed (oh, a 1200 baud modem! A 2400 baud modem! Oh my, not a 9600 baud modem!!). In the early nineties something new was being pioneered; it was when a central computer would hook up to another computer somewhere else in the world. No longer did you have to settle for local geeks – you could go international! I began making friends in New Zealand, in the Caymans, in Italy and I learned the true meaning of “social networking.”
Around 1992 I stopped using a computer all together when I began my travels and it wasn’t until 1995 when I visited a friend in Vancouver did I see where the world of computers and modems had gone too. There was now Windows 95 to make computing easy and hardrives that held more space than those floppies ever could. Computers were becoming more mainstream yet the web still had a ways to go. There was, however, a new development in connecting – IRC Chat. And I hopped on there from time to time, chatting with family and old friends and meeting new ones. I really liked this idea and decided to build a quick and permanent way for people to know me and connect.
So in 1995, using my friend’s computer, I put up my very first web page (seen above). I used Netscape Navigator and hosted it on their site. I put things up that were important – photos, about me, a diary to keep people updated and an email link. Because the web was relatively new I didn’t understand how people could find me (I thought you had to tell them the web site address) and that it could go to anyone in the world with a modem. I thought just my few close friends would read it. Little did I know. Continue Reading…