It occurred to me the other day that I should perhaps reflect upon my fifteen years of Internet familiarity and use. And then, this morning thanks to a Tweet by Sarah Horrigan, I came across this:
Spookily, the dates coincide with my own Internet usage.
I’d heard about the Internet for a couple of years but when, in August 1996, I travelled to Australia with workmate Stephen, I experienced it for the first time. Pat and Joe in Berowra (north of Sydney), Stephen’s close relatives, had an Internet connection and I tried and better tried to get a grip of what it was I was looking at. Yahoo! seemed to be Joe’s favourite site and because he ‘searched’ with it AND emailed with it, I was marginally confused about what it actually did.
Determined to find out, I used to spend every spare moment I had at work, on one of only two Internet-enabled machines available to Dewsbury College staff. Much of the rest of 1996 was spent looking at Yahoo! and other sites like Alta Vista and Excite.
I also enrolled on an html writing course and although I would never say I could code a full web-site, I learned enough to get by (as I still do).
My time on the college Internet-enabled machines was noticed and I eventually became involved with in-house staff development. I spread my burgeoning Internet skills amongst staff and over those early years, to evening classes, often populated by what we now call silver surfers. So what else has happened over those fifteen years?
Well, an awful lot.
The college started to use email as a main means of communication (that took some explaining/training); the college (thanks to Becta funding and JANET) began to buy more computers that could be linked to the Internet; more and more sites then began to be blocked by the college, the Internet doubled in size each year (at least); other technologies thrived alongside the Internet (Flash etc.); Microsoft began to create usable tools like Word ’97 and PowerPoint; YouTube came along and blew us all away; MySpace and then Facebook came along; Twitter won the battle of micro-blogs (at the expense of my favourite Jaiku) and – eventually, colleagues began to ‘get’ the technology revolution.
It’s hard to imagine what the next fifteen years will bring.