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In which John discusses how it felt when the Internet came to his house in the early 1990s.

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Morning Hank it's Tuesday,
When the internet first came to our house in the early 1990s so far as I could tell the internet was inside of a box, the box required a bunch of technical skill to install and then once my Dad got the internet working the internet was green letters on a black screen. I remember my Dad showing me the things the internet could do, like look the internet can show you what the weather is like right now in Beijing or with the internet you can download the apology of Socrates for free.

And now I understand why all that stuff must have been so cool to my Dad, like one of the weird solipsisms of American life is that the news almost never talks about the weather outside of the United States unless there is some natural disaster unfolding, and it is pretty cool that the apology of Socrates is available to anyone with an internet connection. But of course to thirteen year old me all of that stuff was just stupid, and then Dad showed me that on the internet you could talk to people, he wanted me to practise my French so he showed me a French forum and I started asking people'Comment ça va?' and 'Où est la bibliothèque?' and then pretty quickly I started to wonder if there was an English-language version of that same service and it turned out there was and that changed my life. I made friends including many of the most important friendships of my childhood and I met a girl who I eventually fell in love with and dated for most of college even though when we first met in real life, and this is still astonishing for me, neither of us had ever since a picture of the other because the internet was still green letters on a black screen.

I even got something called an email address which was a series of random digit at Back then the internet charged by the hour which became a real issue because I wanted to spend many many hours on it, my parents wanted to be supportive but they also like need to pay the mortgage but just as they were telling me I was going to need to decrease my internet usage a lifeline appeared CompuServe realised that their student forum needed moderating and because I was always in that forum I was hired as one of the moderators, and by hired I mean given free internet. That moderating experience did teach me a little about online community building but mostly it just gave me all the internet I could want, and I wanted a lot of it, like I still think of that first summer as the summer of CompuServe, like if a single event in my life occurred in my life outdoors at summer I do not recall it.

Like I do not have the physical vigour required for proper exploration but that summer I felt all that magic of discovery as I uncovered every wonder and terror on the internet. Now I don't want to wax nostalgic about that internet, it had all the problems of the current internet albeit on a smaller scale, my point is only that I loved it. It gave me friends when I really needed them and that I fell in love and that I found out that Beijing had weather.

These days after drinking from the internet's fire hose for more than 25 years I've begun to fell more of its negative side effects, I don't know if it's my age or the fact that the internet is no longer plugged into the wall but now can travel with me everywhere I go, but more and more I find myself reading that Wordsworth poem that begins 'The world is too much with us late and soon' but this weekend the Project for Awesome reminded me how the best of the internet feels, this year's Project for Awesome has raised over 1.5 million dollars for charity and the fundraiser is still up you can go to until midnight tonight and get great perks. But money aside I felt so grateful this weekend to be part of a vibrant and joyous community that is working together to try to make the world suck less, in the end what I love about the internet is also what I fear about the internet we can do so much more together then we can do alone.
Hank I will see you on Friday