May 21, 2011

Close Encounters of the Third Kind

Recently I wrote about "the Stone Age", which I call the era before the Internet as a joke, on my weblog. Today I'll write about the differences between the ways of using and thinking of the Internet by my generation of the Stone Age and younger generation of the Iron Age.

I'd like to go back to an older age. I was born in the New Stone Age, when the TV already existed. But my parents' generation was born in the Old Stone Age, when the TV didn't exist yet. They had experiences of the first encounters of TV, as if monkeys encountered a "Monolith" in the film "2001: A Space Odyssey."

TV is the "Monolith" for my parents' generation, which changed their lives. But I don't know the era without TV in the Old Stone Age. There already has been TV in my life, so it has not changed my life and it has been a part of my life at beginning. I think that the ways of thinking of TV by my parents' generation and my generation might be different. The Old Stone Age people and the New Stone Age people are different.

For me the Internet is the "Monolith." I clearly remembered my first encounter of the Internet. I encountered the Internet on business, not privately. Of course I use the Internet now because I have no other choice, but I feel PC and the Internet are basically for my work. PC means "Personal" Computer, but for me it isn't "personal" but "official". I guess that for younger generations, the Iron Age people, the Internet is a part of their private lives.

When I touched the "Monolith," I used a UNIX (not Linux) machine, which was based on CUI (Character-based User Interface). A browser wasn't installed, and I used e-mail and accessed remote databases. I wrote e-mail by "vi", which is a popular text editor software on UNIX in the New Stone Age. I thought of the Internet as a tool of my work like a mainframe computer at that time.

After Windows 95 was released, the meanings of the Internet for me were changed. I had been able to access the Internet by my own PC and WWW (World Wide Web) became common. Although Microsoft made a great improvement from MS-DOS to Windows 3.1 and a greater improvement from Windows 3.1 to Windows 95, and then they have stopped improving windows at least for users, and it's the same as MS-Word and MS-Excel.

Nowadays everybody uses the Internet, but at that time the user of the Internet was limited mainly to some business users and geeks. And I often heard the word "netiquette." The capacities of network and computers were much poorer than now, so users had to care of not giving network too much load and it was called "netiquette". If I made mistakes, some geeks would have given me a telling-off on the net at once, so it was hard to get into the world of the Internet.

Anyway I found that I could make my own website by Windows 95 and my desktop PC, so I tried to make it, which was only seen in the office. One of my friends, who saw my website, told me that it was fun and I should publish it, so I started this website.

In the Early Iron Age there was no weblog service and SNS. I typed html to keep my diary on my website by myself, and communicate with my friends through message boards and e-mail. It was very fun, and it might be more fun than now. After all I’ve been doing the same thing, keeping diaries and making comments on friends’ website, on the Internet until now.

Now we can access the Internet by various tools, but I don't have a smart phone and iPad. I have always accessed the Internet by PC, so I feel it is most convenient to use a PC with a big display and a full keyboard. Sometimes I send e-mail by a cell phone, but I'm not good at writing by a cell phone. I don't want iPhone and iPad but MacBook Air.

I guess young people, who were born in the Iron Age, touched the Internet through cell phones first, so they have no feelings of resistance toward accessing the Internet by various tools.

In the future PC will die, and I, the Stone Age man, will go extinct. "Old soldiers never die; they just fade away."

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