While reading Halavais

Doing the reading now for the FINAL reaction paper post, due tonight at midnight. Yeah. From being all “Hermione Granger” and reading ahead at the beginning of the semester, I’m back in ‘college catch-up’ mode.

Couple of thoughts.

Firstly, Halavais’s paper is a draft. Which we can’t cite. So… how do we cite it for the reaction paper? Believe it or not, posting something on the web counts legally as publication. By running a blog and having even sporradic readership, we’re technically members of the Press. (I can dig up the precedent court case if I have time to search for it). So, like, the responsible thing to do is to include citations. (Whatever… I usually just copy how Alex has the assignments listed on the assignment page anyway. Good enough for the perfesser is good enough for me.)

Second, and more importantly, I’m reading about Google and searching and the development of the internet and going, “Whoa… I can *remember* using Archie and Gopher.” I had no clue what it was for, but I kept trying to make it do something cool. At the time, I was living in VanHousen Hall, 3rd floor, Potsdam College. There was a 2nd floor study lounge without TVs, and immediately to the right of the lounge doors were two computers for general use.

They were old even then (1989-1990 academic year). You had to go all the way across campus to beg for an account. It was technically reserved for CompSci majors only, but if you knew the folks at Campus Computing you’d get an account. I got to know the folks at Campus Computing.

Relay Chat was da bomb, before we said ‘da bomb’

The big to-do was that you could use the old thing (integrated monitor, ugly blue hard plastic casing, green-screen terminal display, big clunky keys that made far too much noise) to connect to Relay @ Cornell. From there, you could enter a chat room that connected students from all over the place. When you joined the chatroom, you signed in anonymously (linked to the IP of the school and the login records, so semi-anonymously I guess) and you set up your screen name. There were no graphical UIs. You just typed ‘to rly@cornellc: <chat message>’ or ‘to rly@cornellc:/<command>’. The screen of the terminal was your ‘application window’. Immediately upon joining a channel, you could do a /who or a /leave or a /join <channel number>. Or a /list, which returned the list of chat channels and the subject. Only 1-99 were “public” channels that got displayed in the /list. The rest were user-generated, and they were not displayed.

Those who were ‘in the know’ got to go to the cool channels. A couple of channels were reserved for specific purposes or specific ‘gangs’ that populated them. The one I recall specifically was Channel 333, for gay chat. Back in 1990, struggling with self realization efforts, never before online, new to the whole ‘anonymity’ thing, it was risqué in the extreme. Especially since you couldn’t have cybersex… the lounge was open to the entire dorm, and it was rare indeed to not have folks in the lounge with you. It wasn’t until Junior year that my roommate had an IBM386 and a girlfriend who lived off campus. Mmm. Yeah, well, college was very different back then, and we were much more innocent. Cybersex doesn’t seem like it would faze many teenagers as a concept today. Back then, few students actually had typing skills, so one-handed typing was next to impossible.

Or so I heard.

Fast forward a couple of years

I remember working for IBM as a Purchasing Agent when my coworkers told me about this great new website called ‘Yahoo!’. Whooooooooooooaaaaaaaaaaaaa.

“Are those graphics?”

“Yeah man. You can download them.”

“Really?! Awesome!”

“They take a long time to load, though. Better make sure you have the top of the line… a 9600 baud modem is -essential- for serious browsing on the web.”

IBM was the company that sent me on my first training session for how to write HTML web pages. I got paid to sit in a day-long corporate training class which was all about extremely basic HTML authoring. I was briefly considered to be cool because in 1995 I could legitimately let drop that I could code HTML. (BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAAA!) Nowadays you only get that kind of street cred from ActionScripting. (*snicker*)

Kinda puts a lot in perspective. A -lot- in perspective. I made what turned out to be a rather prophetic remark once to my fraternity brothers. We were just visited by an alumnus of the fraternity who had dropped off of the face of the earth and showed up unannounced at the hangout spot in the Union. Someone had said, “Imagine how hard it must be to stay in touch after graduation.” I said, “Yeah, but not for us. Ours is the first generation of this fraternity who will graduate already having email accounts and keeping in touch that way.”

I still have a collection of handwritten letters that I relied on to communicate with my college buddies during the summers of my early years in college. It wasn’t unusual. Letter writing was cheaper than phone calls, and I got many discussion threads going that way.

Ah well, on to the reading again.


One response to “While reading Halavais

  1. What do you think the future of “the search engine” holds? Where do you think it is headed?

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