A New Addiction?

This is a follow on to my previous post.

I have been on Twitter for over three years, and it has opened up the world in a way that other social media or forums or any number of other online dynamics has never done for me. Just so you understand the magnitude of that statement from my perspective, I have had an internet id in one form or another since 1986 — several years before the Web was born and certainly before the general public even knew what the Internet was and maybe a couple of years before Al Gore invented it ;-). These were the days when the nice graphical user interface (GUI; pronounced gooey) that allows point and click existed. We could only hand key ping commands (which still run the Net under the covers today) into a command line, and the most sophisticated graphic was made with letters and symbols and viewed on a monochrome display. Eighty byte files we manually appended were used to create community, and those later became forums.

At that time, the only people on the Internet were the U.S. Military, a few other departments of the U.S. government, a few foreign groups, some universities doing R&D, and a handful of IT companies. We had a blast talking to each other about life and love and the future of technology, and I still have some of the bulletin board topics preserved in hard copy. They are precious to me because the interactions with those very thoughtful people literally and very dramatically changed my life. My views were expanded exponentially — in a way that reading thousands of books could probably never do. I was an avid reader at the time and still am, but the immense exchange of not only ideas but also of cultural perspectives had an energy to it that was like tapping into God. I believe in God, so my saying this is in no way making light of that. The Lord already knew all of this was going to happen with technology, and I love that He allows us to explore His creation.

There was also an awareness of God among that early online community. One of the topics often discussed was the pie in the sky of everyone talking to everyone else with immediate communications and how that could be construed as rebuilding the Tower of Babel and what all of that might really mean. Thankfully, I realized very quickly that I have no desire to be God or to play Him with the use of a tool like the Net but rather to enjoy what God has facilitated and let it benefit mankind. For those of you who don’t believe there is a God, obviously, you can disregard, but I would be remiss in not giving tribute where I feel it is deserved.

All of these experiences insured that I would forever have a passion for IT and the Net. So it is my pleasure to try to stay up on what is happening with respect to technical advances and especially with regard to communications. I don’t really have the view that I have to keep up with my kids. They usually have to keep up with me! LOL!

Fast forward 26 years, and Twitter is the realization of decades of dreaming and planning and building of a foundation for communications that is even better than I thought it would be. Does it have some problems? Are people involved? :D Yet it’s fantastic because relationships are integral to it. Isn’t that the point ultimately?

And for the recent moves by Twitter to do some censorship, I don’t sweat that because people have become inured to easy access to each other, and techies are the most rabid about preserving it. There’s no going back. So even if Twitter really starts clamping down, something else will spring up to take its place. But for now, this is the thing.

edit: oooh, lots of typos and bad sentences in this. That’s what I get for posting without editing. Ouch! LOL! I’ve fixed the typos I saw. You’ll have to live with the bad sentences. :D


  1. Thank you for that background, Frenz. Like you, I also believe in God and have absolutely no worries whatsoever that you give credit where credit is due.

    Back in the 1980s, I worked for the Australian Department of Social Security. I was a clerk and we wrote letters, reports, etc. by hand onto paper and passed these to the ladies in the typing pool to type up; later on, it became the Wordprocessing Pool.

    We clerks all got computers on our desks by 1990 and so we had to teach ourselves to type by using the typing tutor installed on the computers.

    I was lucky enough to be working in the section that eventually became responsible for setting up the computers throughout our National Administration in Canberra. So that plus installing new software as it became available over the next year and learning to use that software was immensely interesting to me.

    My children where at university by this time and I keyed up all their assingments during my lunchbreak and after work – so, for a little while at least, I knew more about computing than they did!

    We had a very early type of email called ccmail but that allowed us to communicate only within our own department; it was extremely handy, though, to be able to “talk” to our regional offices all over the country by that means, as well as by telephone.

    I had also loved it when we obtained the first VCR in our training section – I had been in the right place at the right time then, too, and learned to setup and operate a VCR before they became a household item.

    Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to work full-time for about 17 years now, so I rely on people like you to teach this old dog some new tricks!

  2. Oh, dear, I just realized I wrote “got computers” – sorry, What would my English teacher think of that slip, I wonder?

  3. How do you want me to fix that? :D

  4. What a coincidence, I also have an internet id since 1986…. LOL… In spite of being very ignorant about technology, I love the many and faster ways of communication it gave us during the last years. I can’t imagine myself (and the world) without the net, specially when I remember I moved from my hometown 24 years ago to study and had to wait a month or more to get a reply for my letters… well but this happened during last ‘century’ and now it’s history!!!
    Talking about Twitter and FB, both gave me the possibility to ‘met’ so many interesting people and to find so many information about countless issues that I just can think about how much I like these resources!!!

  5. Please, forget my comment about having a id in 1986 (bad and definitely old brains)… I got my internet id 10 years later… LOL

  6. Just now seeing this. No worries! you were still a very early user! : D

    It is amazing how 1996 was 16 years ago, and 1980 was 32 years ago! It took me forever to see 1980 as “ancient history”. LOL!

  7. Indeed it’s amazing that in less than 20 years the internet changed the world completely!!! I laught a lot when I compare things before and after it!!!

  8. Love the AL reference!! Me? I’m way new to this scene…got the internet around ’98ish. I’d do a search, find the site I needed, click it then go bake a cake, wash the clothers, weed the garden..come back and half my page might be loaded up! I was working on family history and my patience was sorely tried during those times. Imagine my delight in 2001 when a hunter (who happened to be the president of the local telephone company) sat in my dining room and told me about this new thing called DSL and would I like to try it? Oh the joy!! I’ve been rocking and rolling ever since while my relatives in much larger towns in TX are still on dial up and are still waiting and waiting….

    and BTW, I am now a Tweeter. Swore I wouldn’t do it. Caved big time, thank you Frenz!

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  10. I probably should put this on my own blog, as it got long …

    I have a weird perspective, I’m sure, and one that is not typical. My father was “in IT” in the late 1960s, or as the job he had was called in the capacity he had it, “signal corps,” and there are pictures of me at the age of three months playing with discarded keypunch cards that I’m sure carried pieces of classified cryptocomputer code. Eventually he left the army but not computing, because that was his personal step from the farm to white collar employment and the middle class. So, from the second they were available we had computers at home, but more as obligation, never as unalloyed pleasure, and that’s how I tend to see technology — as something that means a phone call in the middle of the night to a systems analyst that wakes up a whole family that would rather be sleeping. I’m sure that experience shapes my attitude toward tech, which I tend to see as something that one has keep it under control.

    I got my first net access in the summer of 1988 when I took a job at the university computer center doing maintenance on student computer labs, so slightly after you. I learned to write email on a 3270 keyboard, which I am sure you remember — they got overloaded all the time and had a reset key in case the operator typed too quickly. I loved what one could do with a BBS and remember that fondly, particularly the RPGs we sometimes played from work when things were slow. I’ve really been able to exploit the information part of IT a lot and have been grateful for how much it has improved my life (I no longer lug dictionaries back and forth across the ocean, and that’s fantastic).

    But social media have always seemed penetrative to me, sometimes obnoxiously so. Until Armitagemania, they always took a back seat for me to real life contacts — I have a fb account for my RL identity which I use a lot despite my ambivalence, but primarily to keep in touch with people I actually know from the disparate phases of my life. I don’t use social media to meet new people. Admittedly, I have a job where I constantly meet new people who are basically likeminded, and I have almost unlimited exposure to new ideas on a f2f level. For the first time with Armitagemania I can claim to “know” a number of people whom I have never met IRL. I can imagine that if I’d left my current profession last fall, as I’d planned, social media might have gotten more important to me. I know it’s weird for a blogger to say “I could live without social media,” but I think I could. I don’t dislike Twitter in the ways I anticipated I would, but I’m still suspicious of it. I’m glad for everyone whose world has opened up because of it, but it hasn’t done that for me. I would say I have had a handful of close exchanges on Twitter, for which I have been grateful, but even those contacts have had to go elsewhere (email) to be fully realized, as 140 characters is barely a sentence. So I don’t mean to downplay meetings I’ve had on Twitter, but it just hasn’t rocked my world.

  11. Very interesting to hear about your father! Oh, yeah, I remember 3270. How could I not given my employment history? :D It was interesting to help some people turn loose of those things when the PC came out. That’s one reason the 3270 PC was marketed so that those people could finally say to themselves, “Oh, okay, I can use that.” Ironically we are coming full circle with The Cloud.

    I actually was in IT a few years before I was given an internet id. Boy am I dating myself with this post. LOL! And like your father, I had computers in my home for my job before I owned one for pleasure. Earliest one I had in the house was just a little more than a year after the IBM PC was born. In fact, I did not have to buy a computer for a long time because I was always supplied with one or more.But I did buy one as a gift to my mother and father in 1984 with a 40% discount and the damn thing still cost me almost $4,000. I guess the consolation is that my mother still uses it. She has the latest, greatest, but she still has that machine and has a massive database she keeps on it. Actually, I am horrified by this. I’ve begged her to let me transfer all of it to one of her newer systems, but she refuses. Thankfully, she has printed everything, but what a pain in the ass.

    As you well know, I’m not a fan of Facebook. I didn’t care too much for it from the beginning. I had actually made a page for myself back in 2006, but only used it once. Then my daughter discovered it in 2008 and said I should use it so we could easily share when she moved from home. It was fun for about four months or so. I have only kept up with it since for my family’s sake or if I had a very good reason. As for all the other social media, I could probably do without all of it except that Twitter surprised me and that’s because I had the wrong notion about it. I’m going to write more on this, but I’ll save for a post.

    But I’m curious about why you’re suspicious of Twitter. I could speculate, but I would love to hear it from you. I do remember you raising the stalking issue, but I was wondering if there is anything else. Maybe there’s something I need to know.

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  13. Some of those first generation of home machines were really tough. I had a “portable” PC that was crazily heavy, built like a tank. But it’s astounding that your mom’s is still working.

    I don’t know why I’m suspicious of Twitter. I tweeted a lot more than usual today on purpose to sort of try it out. It’s fine for that kind of conversation (mostly squee). Maybe it’s that I find 140 char so little as to be self-decontextualizing; hard to know what people are saying and flames are easy. Maybe it’s that I find 140 char too easy to hide behind, easier to create sock puppets, etc. I’m tense about the censorship issues although I’m told that they can be gotten around. It’s nothing more than a vague feeling of unease. I know what my issues with facebook are — just haven’t figured out what they are with Twitter yet, I suppose.

  14. […] disc operating systems now, it just spills into a file. Which probably saves a lot of trees. Given our conversation about the novelty (or lack thereof) of Twitter this week, which generated one of those “remember when 48k RAM was a lot?” conversations — […]

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