Wednesday, March 3, 2010

meta internetting that got really micro toward the end.

A youtube video I watched just now had a man who said he hadn't been around since the start of the internet but he got online in 1992. What! I thought around then was when the internet for people started! So I left him a comment "Oh. I did not know the internet in usable form was older than 1992. I thought it was just to share text files before then. I am 21 and have been using computers for 19 years but have only been using the internet for 11 years. omg i've just realized you printed out an email you got. Generational gap right there as well" and went off to wikipedia (I'd been to the entry before to command f "al gore" but didn't read it through) and sure enough, the ARPAnet is a few years younger than Dad and the public, widespread internet (not the internet as I've known it but a precursor that crossed the threshold into usability) is a few years younger than me.

So now I'm thinking about the internet, and how important it is. Everything would be so hard and limited without the internet. Some things would be so complicated, like I would have to have maps of everywhere I might go and keep the maps where I was, like what if I left them at home when i was at my parent's house? And what if I left them in my car when I was in someone else's car or took the bus someplace? And I would have to go to a store to get music, and also to get a radio so i could hear new music to find out what new songs i might like. And I would need to own recipe books. (I try new recipes every week but I do not trust recipe books. I guess in the old days you'd go through them and if one was a flop you made a note of it and served it anyway? I go to new york times online and read the comments and adjust accordingly, or do the same on That way loads of people have tested it and I can figure it out from there.) I would need a dictionary. And I could still take digital pictures but I could only share them by... by putting them on cd and mailing it? By sketching them and mailing it? Because I can't afford to print photographs but the operating cost of my camera is very low, just what it costs to recharge the battery I guess. So I can for free take all the photos I want (the internet does not do this part, it is other technology which in my scenario I still have) and then share them with every single person i know if they care to look (via facebook) and with the people I think will like them (via email if they are good pictures to save or via fb tagging if they are just fun). So in addition to things being easier, I can just do a lot more stuff since I have the internet.

Also it is free to do most things. Like instead of buying 2 of my required textbooks (red badge of courage and the conjure woman) I just looked them up and read the full text online. There's legally free content, illegally free content, plus there is meatspace free things that the internet enables like freecycle.

And the parts that aren't free aren't wasteful products. I watched The Story Of Stuff last night (online of course but still projected in a student run awareness event showing) and it said that out of everything you buy you only have 1% 6 months later, plus also there was waste in producing and transporting it before you bought it). That sounds high to me, and it's just an overview short movie so the narrator didn't cite anything but still I know I make a lot of trash, and a lot of people make more trash. So it's interesting that files you buy online don't contribute to the waste in the same way. I said files because if i wrote "the things you buy online" it would sound like i was including the things you get on amazon, but not everything is files.

On facebook I play a game Happy Aquarium. I started playing because it's like having a fishtank to look at (though it plays dumb music instead of the flowing water sound a proper fishtank provides so I mute it) but free and easy. I kept playing because my friends play and it's something fun to do long distance. I live 70 miles away from my boyfriend but we know each other's login info so can feed each other's imaginary fish and earn in-game coins and then buy each other little tank decorations or fish, send decorations as gifts, and also leave messages in bottles, which is the only remote way I know to do that as he's inland. Almost everything in the game is free (costs in-game currency) but some items you have to pay for. Like this unicorn, which I covet. It costs $3 or you can level up 36 times to earn pearls for it.

I actually have a few for-pay things in this game because once Anders was supposed to come down for the weekend but got delayed or sick or something and so he stayed home but got me a few dollar's worth of for-pay currency to cheer me up. And it worked, because it was unexpected and frivolous. We spent a long time fb chatting what I should get and I got a dolphin and named him Speeders.

A month or so later for some other reason I spent $2 to get him currency so he could have a choice of some of the for-pay items and he had fun with that. One little running joke we have about the game is that they introduce loads of new things all the time in all the categories but never new crawlers, never for months. We sent images back and forth via chatting of what we wished we could have as crawlers, and every time a new collection of items came out (like "western" or "space") whoever was AFK (at school, say, or in bed) would say "check if there's new crawlers!" and the one playing would report, "No, none yet. darn." And today there are three new crawlers, nudibranches, so I went on Andy's account to spend $1 (smallest allowable increment, the new nudibranches are 60 cents) so he could get one but he already had enough currency left to get one so I didn't.
So my point is that not only do people pay for random things with no external value, I myself have done it, and I have about $30 all together.

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