January 24, 2003

Mitnick's Back Browsing

Did you see this the other day...Kevin Mitnick, after eight years of being prohibited from using the internet, got back online. He last 'surfed' in 1995, when he used an early version of Mosaic, the precursor to Netscape. Can you imagine what that must have been like for him to remember gopherspace being the standard, and find high-speed access to the WWW, javascript, pop-up ads and multimedia.

In 1995, I was working in a community hospital in NC (Industrial Rehab and Pain Center) and was able to convince the admin that the networking potential of something called 'email' and the information gleaning we could do with CompuServe would pay for the small monthly charge in a matter of weeks. (It did!) I managed to find a 'trial month' subscription from one of the two providers in our region (using a blazing-fast new 14.4k modem) to the wimpy wide web, and got our VP down to look at what it would do for us. We were the only department in the hospital to be 'wired' for about two years, and I tried to keep our access (on my computer only) a secret on the one hand, but was wanting to share this amazing access to information with others.

Soon Blacksburg (just north of us here) became one of the first 'wired communities' via BevNet (BBurg Electronic Village). At that point, the light clicked on... what if we could live out in the country back up in Virginia, but have access to the internet? (At that time, it was chiefly the larger cities that offered ISPs; Blacksburg was one of the few rural exceptions). Wouldn't that be cool!

And now, eight years later, here I am in Floyd County, about as geographically isolated as one can get in the eastern US, with the virtual world at my fingertips, and folks from Australia, Malaysia, Japan, Europe, Canada come visit me here every day!

What were you doing with your computer in 1995? When did you first go 'online'...using your computer for anything more than a 'dumb terminal'?

While the 'net is not a replacement for face-to-face or libraries that smell of old books, and even though it has more than its share of rotten content, all in all, I'm happy to have come along during its infancy and childhood. Don't you wonder where it's going, and if it will continue to be a tool, or will it someday become a master?

Like any technology, the internet is value-neutral. It's the intentions of minds that will determine how it is used. I'm finding the world of weblogging to be overwhelmingly a good use of minds, words and bandwidth. How about you?

Posted by fred1st at January 24, 2003 07:53 AM | TrackBack

If you believe Mitnick hasn't been on the Web these past 8 years I have a bridge in Brooklyn to discuss with you :)

I was a BBS nerd in the early 90's and I had my first Internet email address through a BBS in 92 or 93. I spent New year's Eve 1995 building my first web page. It was on the server before midnight, but it was several hours into 1996 before I had unraveled the mysteries of Unix file permissions and made the page visable to the world.

BTW - I'm not a total loser. My wife was 7 mo pregnant, plus we had a 2 year old, so our social opportunities that night were limited to staying home!

Posted by: Chris at January 24, 2003 08:54 AM

In 1992, I had an IBM luggable (the size of a moderately large suitcase) that had a keyboard detachable from the base, an 8" amber screen, and two 256K large floppy drives. Cheap at about $4000...my brother gave it to me, he had upgraded to a machine with an amazing 40MB of HD space, a 386, I think. Blazing speed, massive storage. Boy was I jealous!

Posted by: fredf at January 24, 2003 09:10 AM

In 1994, I can remember trying to find info for an assignment on both liberation theology and feminist theology. Don't think I would have much trouble now!

Posted by: Jan at January 24, 2003 07:56 PM

In 1995, I'd been online for ten years (taking time out for meals, of course). Among other things, I'd been a room host on the service that eventually became America Online, and a moderator of a conference on FidoNet, distributed to local BBS systems. And I was starting to learn the rudiments of HTML, to be put to use in the spring of 1996 on my first Web site, which was nothing if not rudimentary.

So long as the Net remains decentralized and, well, sort of sloppy, it will remain more tool than master, I think.

Posted by: CGHill at January 25, 2003 09:26 PM

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