Wednesday, 18 May 2011

We <3 Teh Interwebs

This post was something of an experiment between myself and Nicola (aka HarmoNicks), to try and see if it was possible to collaboratively create a blog post, using a combination of notepad (because all awesome things are written in notepad) and Dropbox. We probably could have used something far more suited to this, like Google docs or some fancy Office Sharepoint thingummy, but instead we decided that instead it'd be best for this thing to take about two months to collectively write, and for the entire editing and authoring experience to be a total clusterfuck of IRC discussions, constantly deleting and re-writing parts and neither of us really understanding what the hell was going on.

We have learned our lessons. It was a totally stupid idea and we shall not do it again. It's not long enough to justify two people working on it, and either of us could easily have knocked this up on our own in an afternoon (and it would probably be better). It's also a pain in the arse to constantly use "we" when writing a post. It could be more coherent, and it could be better written, but we can't be bothered with it any more, so here it is.

This post is sponsored by our muppet of the week, Darren:

<Daz> i've been thinking
<Daz> they have their own parking spaces right next to the entrance of shops
<Daz> and their own private toilets
<Daz> and they get front row seats at gigs and sports events and stuff
<Daz> and they get to go on planes first
<Daz> aside from the whole not being able to walk aspect
<Daz> disabled people have it pretty fucking good
<HarmoNicks> ..........
<Daz> yeah tbh that seemed to make a lot more sense before I said it

As kids who started to reach their more formative years at the start of the 21st century, and as kids who spent a pretty huge part of their youth growing up with the internet, and on such cesspools of meme generation as SA and 4chan, there is a certain unique position of our lives being somewhat inextricably linked with the world of technology, and the internet. It is something our parents don't fully understand, and something that even our more technophobic peers don't really understand. What's weird is that at the time it felt we were different, yet now it just seems we were a bit ahead of our time.

We spent ages on IRC, IM clients, internet messageboards and forums for online social interaction. Now most people are pretty heavy users of Facebook. We had Star Wars Kid, Numa Numa and ORLY owls, now people have Friday and lolcats. Heck, even the title of this blog is a reference to a meme so old that most of the new generation of internet users won't have a clue what it refers to. And even then, we weren't as old-school as some, merely because we were still born a few years to late for the formational heyday of the internet. 4chan was already getting out of fashion (or more, getting too much into fashion and therefore populated by newfags) before we got to it.

It'll probably be weird for some time to come, but some of our best friends are people who we have met initially or even solely online through various hobbies and common interests. There are a number of people scattered around the world that we are great friends with, and yet without the internet we would almost certainly have never met.

Before things get into a sappy "omg internet friends I <3 you guys", it should be said that this train of thought is actually going somewhere, which is to point out the somewhat underestimated but yet astoundingly profound influence which the internet as a whole has upon our lives. We use the internet for so much social interaction online, but it also gives us so much more than that.

(link to comic if you can't read it properly)

We were just kids before the internet got popular. We have no knowledge whatsoever on how to be adults without the internet to help us, and the prospect of living without it is actually terrifying when you consider the shit you use it for that you might otherwise take for granted.

Say, for example, you need to be somewhere in Guildford for some event. You figure you'll get the train there, so you go on the national rail website, and you can get the info on the trains you need to get. You get the journey times, how much the tickets cost, sometimes even what platforms they'll be departing from. If you decide the trains look a bit crap, you can look up the bus schedule. If it's on some random road away from the town centre, then you go on Google maps and you get a map with precise directions to take yourself from the station to exactly where you need to be. And you can print it off to take it with you. Need to stay overnight? Another Google search and you can find places to stay, read reviews, maybe even book online.

We take this shit entirely for granted. If we didn't have the internet, we would be entirely fricking hopeless because we'd have no idea how to go about getting that information. Some brief brainstorming came to the conclusion that it would probably involve several phone calls and a lot of writing down on paper. And to find out what numbers we'd need to call, the internet would be the first place we'd look (though the yellow pages would be the obvious non-internet choice).

But some things we totally can't figure out. Like how exactly would I find out where a certain street in Guildford was? If it's in London, then sure, you can get an A-Z, but most UK road atlases don't go into that much detail for every single town in the country.

And it's not just important or obviously useful stuff where the internet comes in useful. There are so many times where things like Wikipedia are hugely useful just for keeping us sane. You see a guy in a TV show, and you wonder where else you've seen him from? That's the sort of thing that can drive a person mad for hours, yet a quick search on Wikipedia for the episode, and you've got the actor and a list of stuff he's been in. Sorted. The internet isn't quite as useful for things like songs, but there are so many times where little niggly things could piss you off for ages, but don't, because the internet is there to save you.

Then there's stuff like YouTube.

You have fails.

You have epicly cool stuff.


Where the hell else but the internet would you get stuff like that? There is so much absolutely fantastic stuff on Youtube and the various other video sharing sites around. What the hell did people do with their time when they couldn't spend hours on end watching people injuring themselves, or videos of KITTENS RIDING A ROOMBA

I'm sure the next generation of kids is going to have an awesome time with their flying cars and telepathy and what have you, but for now the internet is a pretty damn awesome thing to settle for. And man would we be totally and utterly screwed without it. Without YouTube, Facebook, endless free porn... what the hell would we do with our time? My guess would be spending ours faffing around to do things which Google, Wikipedia, Bing (LOL JUST KIDDING, IT'S SHIT) enable us to do so much faster and with far less effort.

Middle aged people of today probably don't understand the internet in the same way. They don't quite understand just how intertwined our lives are with the web, and the finer ways that our lives work as a result of that. We (especially us nerdy ones) are the children of the internet, and they don't get that. They don't understand how we live with it so much. But that's fine, because we don't understand how the hell they managed to live without it either.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting post dude but,as a pre-internet enabled, middle ages (your phrase not mine, check your spelling) bod, I think I use the net pretty much the same way you do (with a few exceptions). Interestingly enough, because I do take your point about your total dependency on the web, I don't think I would consider anyone who I'd never met in person as a "best friend" and I suspect that, having lived and had to work in the pre-internet age, I am better equipped than you whipper-snappers to survive when the net blows up. I also know what I'd do without it - read books or, more likely, watch TV (notwithstanding sex, drug, rock,roll, etc...) Rant over - I'm considering just commenting on blogs as an alternative to writing any myself... See you Saturday...