Life without the web: A resource guide for anyone under 35
Today, the World Wide Web is 30 years old. Two and a half decades of evolution since computer users were first able to use their phone lines (landline for those who have never had one) to connect remotely to a bulletin board or a newsgroup (an early version of a forum). Life moves much faster now, and for the better. Everything is accessible, searchable, shareable. When the internet began spreading it’s fingers in 1989, people were ready. The lavish excess of the 80s demanded that we have the latest of anything, but we were also on the verge of a recession. The World Wide Web didn’t know it, but it would become a great source of online chatter and rudimentary gaming as people stopped spending time and money outside the home.
My first computer was an IBM PS1 – for those of you who have no idea what that means, let me just say that the memory was smaller than the smallest USB stick is now and I had enough time to cook mac and cheese while it booted up.
So trust that I know what I’m talking about when I say (or actually scream) LIFE IS SO MUCH BETTER NOW.
1) Before the world wide web, we had to buy a whole album, on CD, and had to wait to get home to play it to discover that only 2 of the 15 songs were good.
2) Before the world wide web, we had to spend a whole Saturday or Sunday at the library working on a project for school because the encyclopedia set at home was from the 1970s and where else could we get more current information.
3) Before the world wide web, we had to guess when the bus might come and pray that the shelter wasn’t full so we could have a smoke while we waited.
4) Before the world wide web, we actually had to consult a paper version of the yellow pages and risk great personal injury while extracting the most current version from the top shelf of the closet where the last 4 years of yellow and white (see #5) pages were stored.
5) Before the world wide web, if we wanted to look up a number, we had to consult the enormous phone book called the white pages and discovered there was more than one way to spell Smith (just like we discovered there were so many people that had the same last name we did).
6) Before the world wide web, if we had crappy customer service, we had to suck it up because it was the only cool place to shop with your friends and by the time you got home to call your friends and tell them about it, it was forgotten.
7) Before the world wide web, bullying was done in person and you either defended yourself or walked away from it without fear of the torture spreading to everyone in the universe.
8) Before the world wide web, if you wanted to know the most current local news, you had to turn on the radio and wait for an update.
9) Before the world wide web, if you wanted to steal music, you had to have the tape on your ghettoblaster set to pause/record, wait to hear the song on the radio and hope the DJ didn’t talk over the opening.
10) Before the world wide web, we had to wait. For everything. A phone call. A letter in the mail. Our favourite TV program. In line in the cold for concert tickets. News. Answers.
We are a patient lot, those of us who grew up with rotary phones, beta machines and portable cd players that always skipped. We’ve done our share of searching, waiting, and wanting. Should the world wide web ever go dark, we are well-equipped to deal with the crisis, especially since our parents still have a library of yellow pages hanging around.