Yep, Today is International Internet Day.
I know… break out the Verve Cliquot.
See kids, before the age of the iPhone, the Xbox or even Hotmail, the only thing you plugged into a cable was the phone (or a wire tap if you worked for the CIA). No Facebook, no search engines and basically every time you wanted to know something you either a) made it up, b) trudged to the library, c) watched ‘Tomorrows World’ (BBC1 Thursday nights) or d) asked your parents. And since only nerds went to the library and you sure as hell weren’t asking your parents what kind of career involved a blow job, well kids.. we all basically knew shit nothing about nothing.
I remember (because I’m old), the first time I ‘went online’. It was week 4 of my first job in management consulting and my boss came in with a laptop (itself a modern marvel – its a computer but you can CARRY it!!). He plugged it into the phone and suddenly we were transfixed by the peeps and sqwerks it started making. About 3 minutes later (I know.. right?), a screen popped up and he announced “we are ONLINE”. My colleague and I had no idea what that meant, so we just smiled and nodded. One more thing about computers we didn’t understand (I was still struggling to turn off those weird f things on my Word v3.1).
Of course the first thing he did was type in ‘sex’ (he was a prudish South African guy, but he was, after all, a guy), and suddenly (well, pixel by pixel) there were boobs and butts for days.
I thought, “Ah… so ‘online’ is basically porn on your computer screen? I really don’t think its going to catch on.” and I turned away from the screen. My (male) colleague meanwhile pulled up a chair and together the guys clicked around for hours, screaming and pointing, squealing ‘Oh my god’ and generally having a whale of a time.
There you have it kids. The internet in 1994, 1995, 1996.. up to 2013. Bringing porn to guys who probably should be doing something else.
Of course the internet is a societal gift. A world changing technology. And a great source of all manner of media and great cocktail recipes. Its allowed me to learn how to lay a patio, rock a power clean Olympic lift, find songs I hadn’t heard since the 70s, meet and date a man in Montana (and then get dumped electronically), watch my nieces sing me happy birthday from the UK and of course, meet a variety of charming specimens to date and run screaming from. On that front, I’m not that sure its a winner. But the rest… ah-mazballs.
I’ve found my Canadian ancestry (apparently I’m a lot more Canuck than Brit), applied for jobs (and been hired), driven to Seattle without a map, watched the Tour De France and connected to friends from elementary school. The internet enables me to do my job in pjs, and most critically for me, push my words out into the world (a daily newsletter would be beyond annoying.. and think of the stamps).
Yep, the innerwebs is pretty amazing. Of course its enabled cyberbullying, online stalking, porn and gambling addiction, pedophilia, and human trafficking but hey.. there’s always a downside. It might suck up 14 hours of our day (and 11 hours of our kids days), limiting human connection and interaction but its fun. Like crack type fun. That gets me sitting down in front of it every day at 6am until 7pm type fun. Its driven an on-demand, high speed, information overloaded noise cloud around most people’s heads, but hey, what else would we have been doing? Reading? Talking to each other? Taking a walk? Having in-person relationships? Sleeping? Pshaw!
So thank you Vint Cerf. (sorry Al, it wasn’t you). Thanks a lot.
There is actually an internet ‘ethos’ that Vint wrote in 2002. In ‘The Internet is for Everyone’, itself a weirdly historical document that predicts pretty much everything that has happened related to the internet since 2002. In it, Vint (Mr Innernet) stresses the following;
– Internet is for everyone – but it won’t be if parents and teachers cannot voluntarily create protected spaces for our young people for whom the full range of Internet content still may be inappropriate.
– Internet is for everyone – but it won’t be if its users cannot protect their privacy and the confidentiality of transactions conducted on the network.
– Internet is for everyone – but it won’t be if Governments restrict access to it, so we must dedicate ourselves to keeping the network unrestricted, unfettered and unregulated.
*blush*. Sorry Vint. We prefer to hand over our iPhones and iPads to our 4 year olds and let them go for it while we talk on the phone, text while driving or write that quick email. Our government has mandated that communication companies hand over emails and transactions for ‘security monitoring’ and while the innerwebs is plenty unregulated in the US, I don’t think anyone in China or Burma or North Korea or a host of other countries would consider it so. There still seems to be some work to do on the internet (but there’s so much porn we’ve got to look at first).
And if you really care about this stuff, did you know there’s an Internet Society group you can join? The group works to define the future use of the internet and anyone can join!!! Wild huh? Of course membership isn’t what you’d expect.. given the availability of all that porn and stuff… but hey, if your hand gets tired….you might want to check it out.
So, today, as you’re downloading a song, watching some dude get serviced by 2 chicks or chatting with your Mom and showing her your new haircut, give a thought to Vint and his internet. And I’ll leave you with his final warning;
‘Be thoughtful in what you commit to email, news groups and other Internet communication channels – it may well turn up in a web search some day’
Now he tells me?