Thursday, August 17, 2006

The Web: Remember when we were young...

I know I'm a bit late with this as other people have already commented on the Young drive 'radical media shift' story (e.g. Hot Milky Drink). For me, this story connected in my head with the web being 15 years old. Not only are these children plugged-in to the Internet but almost all of them will be unable to remember an Internet without the World Wide Web. To all intents and purposes, for every child currently at school, the Web has always been there.

I, however, am an old, balding, fat man. I remember the first time I downloaded (using telnet to connect to an FTP server) NCSA Mosaic of the Macintosh. (Is anyone else old enough to know what I'm talking about?) I remember using Mosaic to go to a test page someone at the University had created. On the page was a picture, a sound file and some text - all on the same screen and all accessible with the same program! (Amazing!)

I remember running courses to teach people how to use the Web. We collected examples of web address to share because they were so rare. We had a picture of a Chinese restaurant with a web address on its awning. (Wow!) A colleague brought in a conflakes packet with Kellogg's web address printed on it. (Stunning!) I almost got arrested in Portugal for taking a picture of a police car with the web address of the Portuguese police on the side. (Scary! Ask me to tell you the story some day. I can make it sound much more interesting than it was.)

I remember running courses to show teachers how to use the Web... or should I say, how to use web browsers. We had to show people what a hyperlink was and how to move from one page to another. Did we really have to teach people what a hyperlink was? Apparently we did! For the students in school today, the web has just always been there. Hyperlinks are followed without even thinking about what a hyperlink is. ("It's just how the Internet works. There is no other way to do it... is there?")

I wonder how much that I'm teaching people today will just be "normal" in fifteen years time? Will all the confusion and worry currently caused by podcasts and wikis and blogs (oh my!) have gone? ("You mean people just read stuff that other people had created? Weird!") Or will podcasts and wikis and blogs (oh my!) go the way of Gopher and Archie and Veronica (oh what?). Will they be replaced by something else, something with a name of its own? (Rather than a stop gap name like Web 2.0 which to me says we don't really know what to all it yet - like when cars were called horseless carriages.) In fifteen years time, I wonder what our students will make of what we are doing with the Web today?


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7 comments:

ab said...

I think that took me until the second "(oh my!)" to get the Wizard of Oz thing - now I feel old...!

Things undoubtedly change - that's a good thing though, right? Bearing in mind how far we have come in the last 15 years, technology has aided and enhanced communication beyond all recognition. We live in exciting times. The present problems will be replaced with new ones. My worry is how we can keep everyone up to speed with how they can find out what they need to know.

Chris said...

You are but boys ......

My first experience of computers came with the ZX Spectrum we bought for No 1 son when he was 10. (22 years ago, almost) Later, we got a modem (from BT?) which let him hold conversations in blue type with complete strangers. And as far as I can see he's been doing it ever since. All I really recall is worrying about the phone bill ....

doogiec said...

About 12 years ago: Dial in to my CIX account. Gopher to Imperial College. Find the latest satellite weather image. Transfer it to my storage area on CIX then FTP it to my machine. Copy it to a floppy and take it into School to show my pupils.
I think I prefer it now! I can't imagine what it will look like in another twelve years.

Hot Milky Drink said...

Never mind the technology...I remember when snake belts and flared trousers were the latest thing! :-)

The pace of change and the way we use new technologies is transforming the way people of all ages are accessing media.

I have seen such dramatic changes in the 5 years that I worked at Dundee University. At the beginning of my time there we were still teaching mouse skills and how to create new folders...last year I was left feeling somewhat out of it when a fresh faced student wanted to know whay I wasn't on Bebo and that 'everybody was using it!'

It may be the case that in 15 years time people will be look the same puzzled way when Bebo is mentioned- possibly similar to the looks I get today when I mention Hartley Hare from Pipkins!

doogic said...

I had another thought on what I had said last night about this. Are the complex incantations that were required back then that much different from the process of adding geotags to flickr pictures today? I think some of us are always destined to be find some things first. And as I get older it's getting harder to keep up. I have a seemingly diminishing amount of room in my brain for new stuff. Every time I learn something new, something old has to go.

Having just put our 3.5 year old to bed afer watching Rainbow on Nick Jnr I feel really old. I seem to remember being at the top end of primary when it was on. As for Button Moon - it's way too contemprary for me!

Gordon McKinlay said...

Nostalgia, ah what a wonderful thing. Is it something to do with being in our forties? Less of the old, please. I don't think we all need to be dragged down.

Not long after I started teaching we had access to TTNS via a BBC computer. This was a great way of using email with all the other schools using the system. It never really caught on. I remember being involved in developing an in-service package on using it's services. One of the main discussions was about how to get teachers to actually use email. Has anything chaged?

The brave new world of the web was unforseen at that time.

Mr McSwan said...

My first memory of the internet was in 1997, i'd just got a computer with a 33.6kbps modem, we (and by we I mean my parents) had to pay for an account and pay for the calls to be online.

Within 10 years just look at the difference.