Greetings web denizens. I am excited to join you in world of the Internets.
Ok, enough corniness. Since I have been reading Dan Gillmor’s We the Media, I thought I would use this first post to reflect on my personal interactions with the Internet over the years. Gillmor’s book is a history of the Internet and its impact on journalism, journalists, and readers over the past twenty-odd years. But it also reminds us how new the web really is.
I can remember using one of the early search engines back in 1995. I’m pretty sure it was Yahoo!, but it could have been another now-defunct site with an equally nonsensical name. I cringe now at the hazy memory of that page layout. At the time, it was so cool.
I also remember visiting chatrooms – something I would be horrified to admit about myself today (no, I don’t visit them anymore). Discussion forums, G-chat, Facebook, and other social networking communities are all part of my online life. But chatrooms?! Not today. As the Internet gained more subscribers, and people I knew came online, I didn’t want to be talking to people I didn’t know. Especially not in a single mass conversation.
Then there was ICQ, my first personal email account on hotmail, voice chatting online, and Yahoo! games. AIM became the messaging system of choice in college, and now my friends, colleagues, and I use G-chat almost exclusively.
When I adopted each of these new tools, I didn’t truly reflect on the impact these new technologies had on me. Gillmor spells out how these tools made journalism more participatory and broke down old barriers between media and audience. It also created higher expectations from the audience, people like me who were just as up-to-date on web technology as – or more so than – the media.
I realize that these same expectations apply to me, not necessarily in a professional sense (although working in science and communications does create some pressure), but in a personal way. If I want to stay in contact with friends, I have to be on the same networks as them and more importantly, I have to be active. If my profile, or my blog, or my website sits without being updated for weeks on end, in a sense, I’m not maintaining those friendships.