Departments

In My Day

The old man rocked in his chair, puffed on his pipe, and began:

"You kids today never really see the Internet. Things have been different ever since Google came through. Nowadays, you get on your computer, enter your search terms, and expect to get there on your first page of results. And wherever you go these days, things are the same. Wherever you go, there's a MySpace, or a YouTube, or a Wikiwhatsit. You'd never know what keyword you were at if they didn't highlight it for you.

"Now when I was your age, nobody googled. You told somebody in my day you were googling them, you could expect a slap in the face or a sock in the nose. Back then, if you wanted to find something, you had to surf for it. Nobody was 'organizing the world's information' for you. When I wanted to do research online, I used to have to do a meta-search. You know what a meta-search is? Ask your parents about it. I won't be the one to tell you.

"I used to love surfing. You'd surf through all these little hosts with funny names. I remember this one, I think it was GeoCities—really? They still around? Back then people'd do just about anything to get you to stop and click on their banner or sign their guestbook. Everywhere you looked, something was blinking, flashing, spinning at you. Near jumped off the screen. And the guestbooks weren't like they are today—no girlies with no last names asking for it. You signed a guestbook, and when you saw your name or handle up there with all those others from all over the planet, you felt like you were part of something. I still sign them sometimes, but that's because I'm getting old and sentimental.

"When I was younger than you, my daddy took me once way back in the sticks. We were in his old DOS, so it was close—no windows, and I don't think that thing could do more than 8600. He took me to see Usenet. That was back when things online got quiet during the summer. He showed me all those empty newsgroups—spooky. Nobody was hawking sex or casinos or immortality rings at you then. Just a big quiet. Just a few old guys with their pants too high—yeah, like mine—getting misty-eyed about Arpanet. I guess that's just the way it goes out here."