Saturday, February 7, 2009

personal background relevant to this project

(Warning: The following is some of the aformentioned navel contemplation. Feel free to skip it.)

I'm a "digital immigrant," with tendencies toward going native. I have a strong interest in the history of technology, and how the technology of a given temporal culture (including the present one) interacts with its worldview.

On the minus side:

I'm "old." I grew up in a world where non-professional programmers (who had to be genius-level-brilliant and male) could never hope to touch a computer or even see one except in pictures. I didn't see my first computer until college, and even then access was strictly controlled.

I'm "old." And I was raised by parents who were older than average, and in addition, my mother was partly raised by her grandmother, so my primary, deepest-held values date to the early 20th century, and to some degree, the 19th.

Furthermore, many of the those are rural or working class values. In some ways, then, I'm not only one generation removed from the latest cultural change, but two or more.

I'm middle-aged and female and have a family and a job, which means I have responsibilities dictated by the needs of others. My meat-world life often constrains my online life, sometimes for months at a time, during which technological progress speeds ahead beyond my ability to keep up.

On the plus side:

My parents held, and instilled in me, progressive views, particularly regarding education. Lifelong learning is natural, and new cultural ideas are often fun.

One of my first college-student jobs was as a monitor in the PLATO lab at the University of Illinois, circa 1980. Here I was introduced to the concepts of the internet, computer-aided learning, hyperlinks, and floppy discs so big and genuinely floppy you had to support them with two hands. I took my first computer programming course in the age of mainframes, the first year after they stopped using punch cards in the university's programming courses.

I've been on the internet since the days of command-line Unix interface, telnet, bbs newsgroups, and Gopher.

I've been using PCs continuously since the days of CGA, and taught myself BASIC. I've been word-processing since Voxwriter 1.0.

Somewhere among my floppies I still have the original shareware version of Doom.

I taught myself HTML and have several web pages, the oldest of which is nine years old. (There were some earlier ones, but they're no longer extant.)

I've also designed and continue to maintain an author's professional web page.

I've been blogging since early 2007, and have pages on a couple of social networking sites.

(Note: This kind of self-revelation goes against my almost-Victorian upbringing. It smacks of vanity. But, as far as I can observe, it appears to be a normal, even expected part of the 2.0 world, so I'm trying it out. But I won't go as far as posting a picture of myself in a bikini. -- Fortunately, no one wants to see a fifty-year-old woman in a bikini.)


  1. If you still had a copy of Commander Keen around, then we're talkin! When I was in college (the last year before they wired the dorms for the Internet), some friends & I would play Duke Nukem multiplayer over dial-up. We were hot stuff.

  2. Yep -- Commander Keen: Marooned on Mars. And a bunch of the Kroz series.

    And thou and thy friends were truly cool.