Do you remember your first time online?

I was reading a review of John B. Thompson’s Books in the Digital Age: The Transformation of Academic and Higher Education Publishing in Britain and the United States at breakfast this morning. The review (by Eelco Ferwerda in the Dutch Academische Boekengids) discusses the fate of academic books in view of current developments such as Open Access and Google Print, and notes that Thompson does not devote attention to ‘social software’ such as weblogs, which will change the world of academic publishing — Ferwerda predicts that it will not be long before the first academic book is published that was initially conceived and written on a weblog.

While reading the review, I suddenly realized that I cannot really remember my first encounter with the internet. I remember an old 286 computer, and I remember the first time I wrote a tiny programme in DOS, but that was a long time ago. The internet was ‘invented’ in 1991, so I probably used it for the first time during my studies — I went to university in 1994 — but I cannot remember my ‘first time’. I do remember my first online course in the English department, in 1998. I remember the excitement about using the internet, discussion groups, and online material in that class; wouldn’t the first time I used the net have been just as exciting? Perhaps the process was so gradual that there was no ‘first-time’ feeling to it. Still, considering the changes the internet has brought, it is strange that I cannot remember. Can you?

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2 thoughts on “Do you remember your first time online?

  1. I don’t remember exactly either. But I think it must have been in 1995 in my first year at university too. (I’m pretty sure that the computers at my college in 1994/5 didn’t have internet connections…) But I can remember the dingy old computer rooms with their SLOOOOWWWW computers. You just spent hours waiting for pages to load. So it was really a couple of years and somenetwork hardware upgrades later before my internet use started to take off.

    However, I can distinctly remember getting my first junk email in third year. It was just an advertising spiel from a real company, and I sent them this sharp ‘what are you doing sending me this I don’t want this kind of junk’ reply – which they anwered really politely and just took me off their address list. Ah, innocent days…

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