(This is a second post about the Internet. Mostly because the subject has been on my mind a little. If that’s of no interest go here or here or here or here or here.)
I just discovered the Internet.
Of course this is a lie. I’ve been a netaholic since ca. 1993 but being online and being online are two very different things. The Internet habits of people amaze me. If I weren’t so interested in books I’d have become a sociologist. (When I was a teen I wanted to be a shrink (when I was five I wanted to be a nurse!).)
When I first discovered Internet it was the connection to other people that fascinated me. I felt the http thing was just a small bonus. But talking to people in other countries fascinated me (hey I lived in Iceland at the time!) and I became a frequent inhabitant of the old IRC channels.
That time passed. I moved (on).
And then I found this site on the net that helped you keep a diary on the Internet. I felt it was almost as ridiculous as the idea that I needed a camera in my phone (how can I live without it?!) but I started reading anyway and was soon hooked on the blog sphere. Normal people writing about their every day life. Sharing their troubles, their joys, their ideas – I re-captured the idea I first had about the Internet. Normal people – connecting.
A while ago youtube.com was the biggest thing ever. I must admit I never got it. I still don’t even after watching this video I don’t although I must admit I was intrigued. I never got America’s Home Video’s either and although I do know the two are two different things I feel there is less difference than we’d like to admit.
So I never hit that phase but stayed within the limits of my few news sites and blogs. I rarely used IM and still used email somewhat frequently.
Then there was (is?) facebook. I’ve written about that before so I won’t dwell but it suddenly introduced to me onymousity on the web. With that I mean putting my name own given name (like I do in this blog) on the things I do and say and not using pseudonyms the way I’ve been doing before. The difference is that these things can now all be traced to me and although things I’ve done and said before might surely be traced to me too – there is a subtle difference. Along with all that I suddenly had all the aspects of my life in one place. That doesn’t mean that all my friends and family are on facebook. Far from it. My significant other is not, as an example.
Then a bird whispered to me about this thing Internet is suddenly exploding with. This thing people either get or not. And I must admit I’m overwhelmed.
But again it is introducing me to the same notion. This lovely notion that Internet is about connecting to other people. Connecting to people who aren’t just around the corner waiting for you to invite them to coffee. It takes a while to get the beauty of twitter, if you get it at all. I’m still not sure I “get it” but I do enjoy it. There you get the opportunity to see what other like-minded people are thinking and doing.
And so far it has been the best url catcher I’ve ever had. I never liked link-sites that connected you with all the newest video’s to ha-ha at. I think they’re basically a waste of time but twitter connects me, more thoroughly, to the things that I’m actually interested in. Bookworms, writers, bibliophiles, artists and what have you.
The person to person contact is by far the best yet. You aren’t bombarded with anything you don’t choose and you can respond in your own time. Nobody will be sour because you hung up the phone on them. We’re just there when we are and not when we’re not.
If this continues, though, we’ll need a course in Connecting with others in 140 characters or less 101. Because it isn’t easy. You get your 140 characters to reply or comment. Of course you can always start a new comment but that’s not the point, is it? It’s not IRC. It’s not IM. It’s something else. What? I’m not quite sure yet but I like it. It takes time to connect there in one way but in another way it happens almost instantly.
I promised myself sometime in the past never to stagnate. I promised myself that I’d be open to new things and ideas until the day I die. It’s easier said than done, mind you. And who knows what the next big thing will be. (And with that I don’t mean just on the Internet! But since we’re on the subject…) There are a lot of links falling in with the caption saying something like flutter, the new twitter ;). So far I think we’ve only seen new aspects of the same thing.
But one day, probably not in such a distant future as these things seem to be pacing up quickly, there will be something new. Something spiffy. And it will with 99% possibility connect you to other people in one way or the other.
That is what Internet is all about. It’s always been that way (tell me if I’m wrong?). Today it’s Twitter. It allows you to read and connect a little with Joe next door, with Mohamed far away and with @stephenfry or @neilhimself or @ anyone and everyone. Will you be heard? Surely. By whom? You never know. I personally like Twitter because it guides me to like-minded people and places I am interested in better than any such service has done before. And I didn’t expect that when I signed up at all.
Internet is about internationality; it’s about breaking down borders and walls; it’s about crossing the lines and roaming into the periphery.
I cherish that.