March 10, 2005

Online silliness…

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From that last post, you might think I spend a lot of time online. Well, yes. The greater portion of my day is spent connected (i.e., online) in some form: logged in to IM via cell phone or sitting at the computer with Trillian running.

Why anyone would want to be online and that easy to contact? I guess that depends upon where your social contacts are. If you spend more time going out with friends to the local bar, your cell phone is probably used only for making calls. If you work crazy shifts and get to talk to other people all over the world online, your cell phone probably has a strong text messaging plan.

A geek’s life doesn’t mean no social life either. Online becomes an extension of your social life. Computers are natural tools for geeks, just like hammers and nails are to others. They build houses; I build documents and Web sites. My light reading includes computer hardware reviews and IT briefs (for example, Slashdot, The Register).

Some of my in-person friends have commented that online communication seems very cold. It lacks a friendly voice and face to go with the typed messages (3D immersive environments aside). I strongly disagree. Each person I type with has a unique writing and typing style including typos. It’s part of their online personality. People do change when they get online, lulled into freedom created by a false sense of anonymity. Sometimes they are more themselves or they turn into trolls.

I’ve been online since the late 1980’s when local bulletin boards were the craze for the techno-enabled. Then this cool thing called Mosaic introduced us to Web browsing at a blazing fast 14.4 kbps. Even in the MUDs, I met people who were from all over the world: Britain, Wales, Scotland, Finland, France.

How is online as good as being with people and sharing ideas? On election night November 2004, several friends and I watched the election results from four news Web sites. It was like sitting up late your buddies around the TV commenting and chatting about who would be the next president–except the people in my chat room were across time zones and countries. We were all cringing during the 2004 elections as the results trickled in–but we shared it together as a community in a chat room.

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