The Internet

“Fifty years ago, two letters were transmitted online, forever altering the way that knowledge, information, and communication would be exchanged,” wrote Joshua Bote in USA TODAY October 29, 2019. Those letters were “l” and “o” and perceived as “hello” when the system crashed before the word “login” could be typed. They were sent by a professor at UCLA to another computer at Stanford Research Institute.

At that time only four universities had computers. They were room-sized and required under-floor air conditioning. In 1971, the first email was sent by an MIT researcher and was also the first time the “@” sign was used to designate a specific recipient of a message. I remember the early days when researching medical papers I had to go through a university (@edu) library which would search and produce the Internet address for the requested information.

The World Wide Web (WWW), as we know it, didn’t get invented until 1989 and it was 1991 before the first web page was published. Over the years other services that we are all so familiar with were created, Amazon (1995), Google (1998), Facebook (2004) and Twitter (2006) among others.

Now the internet is as much a part of our lives as driving a car or brushing our teeth. We can access information on any topic, find the answers to burning questions, listen to music and see movies. When I see my granddaughter, a college senior, doing research and taking tests Online, I recall trips to the library and searching through a card catalog. Once the desired journal or paper was located we photocopied it for preparing our research papers. I am glad that she and all students have it easier than we did “back in the day.”

I am sure that I am not alone when I say I love the Internet, warts and all. We know that it can be corrupted, both operationally and politically but we would never go back to a time without the WWW.

Internet
Graphic Courtesy of Pixabay

When Did We get in Such a Hurry?

When I was a small child we had no telephone. Later, after moving from rural Crooked Creek, we did have a rotary dial phone. It was a party line with seven other families, which could be interesting at times. My Grandfather was Post Master of Gee, KY and letters were the way that most people communicated in those days. I don’t recall how long it took for a letter to go several miles to another community, but of course, it was a few days. We managed. 

Today we are all connected magically by cell phones and computers. No waiting, just Instant Messaging, SnapChat or Tweet! FaceTime and Skype are great for seeing my Granddaughter, Kate, who now lives in England.

Until it fails and it will from time to time. Cell phones get bugs and do crazy things sometimes, like eavesdropping prior to FaceTime connection. Computers contract viruses or get hacked. Yesterday my computer told me that I had no connection to WiFI and I panicked. Seriously I panicked. How could I exist? What would I do?

Years ago, I remember George Carlin remarking that everyone was carrying a water bottle. He asked, “When did we all become so thirsty?” My question today is “When did we all get in such a hurry?”  With our modern conveniences and gadgets, we have lost the patience to wait. Or, perhaps I should just charge myself. I know I am guilty and I believe that I have plenty of company.

Day One

I called the provider who instructed me in the reboot process. No luck so an appointment was set up for about 28 hours later . . . tomorrow late afternoon! How could they do this to me? I was griping to my younger granddaughter, Elizabeth, who nonchalantly said, “Just go to Starbucks, Grandmother!” What part of seven-degree temperature and icy roads did she not understand?

Day Two

After spending the night without internet I checked the temperature this morning and it had warmed up (now 10*) so I took off for Starbucks where I drank expensive coffee and was repaid by internet services. I’m a big fan. So, now I have to wait for the repair person to arrive. While I wait, I think I’ll listen to some nice soothing music, but guess what, no Pandora without internet! So, I dragged out some old CDs and got the ancient player blasting Boy Dylan. Forget soothing, but Dylan did help a bit.

Guy #1 makes it about 5 p.m. and after tinkering with the equipment for a while he says, “I have good news and bad news. I can’t fix it, but someone will be here first thing tomorrow morning.”

Day Three

I got up at 7:30 a.m. and got ready for Guy or Gal #2. It is now 11 a.m. and not a word. Finally, he showed up and identified himself as the “outside” guy since the “inside” guy couldn’t find the problem in my equipment yesterday. He was clearly an outside guy because he walked all about the neighborhood with an electronic device in hand and then informed me that all my neighbors had service but for some reason, I did not. So, now it’s sounding like it’s my fault. Guy #2 a.k.a. Outside Guy left assuring me that Guy #3 would be here to get my service squared away.

Guy #3 (“outside guy” #2) came a few hours later and here I am blogging! Guy #3 briefly became my fav. With service back on I reviewed thirty-something emails that had arrived since my Starbucks trip yesterday. I had to smile at myself for being so impatient as I deleted about one-half of the emails which were not important. Then I checked the blog stats and was not too impressed. I read the news, answered the important emails and wondered what all the anxiety had been about.

Just as I thought I could breathe easily with my Internet intact, I discovered that I had no service in three out of four of my TVs! Guy #3 fixed one problem and created another. Sometimes I wish I was one of those seniors who completely eschewed technology!

“Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.” Lao Tzu