Ten Years Online

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It has been more than ten years since I use internet, and now it has been one of my basic needs. Now I can’t imagine being somewhere with no internet connection, I may experience severe withdrawal syndrome. It’s really cute to look back at how internet was like more than ten years ago.

My first encounter with the internet was around 1994, when my brother Reza returned from his study in the US. He brought a laptop with 9600 kbps modem that he connected to a telkom line that is linked to BPPT or something (if i’m not mistaken) which I don’t remember the name. It was not the same telkom line which is available now. He was still using windows 3.1. and it required Trumpet Winsock to get connected. It involved a lot of steps to get connected and certainly was not easy. He then connected to a terminal window to check his mail using Pine.

We then tried to connect to a website, and he showed me the White House website with its sleek white background. I was really fascinated. At that time, I didn’t see browsing a website as downloading a page, but rather, I felt like I really visited the White House virtually. Suddenly I felt that my world is compressed and distance do not matter anymore. I felt I could send email to Bill Clinton anytime. Stupid huh? But really that is what I felt about it.

Then my brother went away to pursue further study abroad and I didn’t use internet anymore. Instead I bought some books (by Elex Media Computindo) about the basics of internet. Finally in 1995, there was a computer fair in Balai Sidang Convention Center and we bought a new computer together with internet connectivity package by IdolaNet. The computer comes with 14.4 US Robotics modem. The first email address (now defunct) was djojos1 [at] idola.net.id . The address didn’t use my name because we intended to use it for the whole family.

The computer was preinstalled with Windows 95, which made internet connection a lot more easier using Dial-Up Networking. The CD from Idola installed some basic application such as an early version of Netscape, Eudora Mail, IRC, and Hotmetal (a basic WYSIWSG HTML editor which is really crappy). The WWW was really basic at that time, and Yahoo website was just recently founded with its ugly gray background. Default HTML always had gray background at that time, and I don’t know whether it is still the case now. I think Yahoo now has white background rather than gray. I used yahoo very much at that time, and sometimes also Hotbot and Altavista.Google was practically non existent.

Then Geocities came into existence and I registered with the address Paris/1472 and set up a website made in Notepad with really ugly fabric-like pink background and lots of animatedgif. With the internet I discovered image format such as GIF and JPG.

With Eudora, I educated myself on setting up mail server. I joined mailing list Piano-L. At that time, there was no spam and email traffic was really manageable.

An application which I really used at that time was mIRC (by Khaled M. Bey). Not many people chatted at that time, and most people who got onto IRC were students. They were polite and not pretentious. I never got to know weird and perverts. I joined EFNet and Dalnet indonesian channels, as well as other channels. I quickly learned the IRC terminologies such as Ops, Bots, DCC connection, etc etc, and actually met up with people from the IRC, mainly Indonesian. There were many groups of Indonesian at that time, from Perth, Sydney, Germany, etc. Interestingly most of the people are no longer traceable online now. I really do not know where they are now. Definitely they don’t do blogging, except for only a few (such as Yanti, Priyadi, and Shinta). The IRC communities at that time were also scandalous and had a lot of gossips. But it was a lot more exciting compared to now. Now people are less polite and more pretentious. For example, now in YM or other chat application, people will just ask “A/S/L” or “Wanna talk dirty?” or “I love you”, which really turned me off. I think ten years ago the chat etiquette were more sophisticated, where people would actually take slower pace in getting to know somebody. I was totally addicted to IRC at that time.

I then moved to Bandung in 1996 and set up an indosat email address for me (that enabled me to connect from different cities in Indonesia). I was still addicted to chatting, and I also joined usenet. The internet was one of the push factor for Indonesian reformation in 1998, because it enabled free flow of Information. It was really exciting to see debates going on the mailing lists and usenet. And spam didn’t exist at that time. I remember during the days in May 1998 there were a lot of live underground reportage of what’s going on in the parliament house. Plans for demonstration were also distributed through emails, pagers, and smses at that time. Political and religious debates was alive in usenet in an unprecedented openness. Indonesian internet community went through a steep learning curve in the socio-political debates. I remember that there was a big hoo-ha on “Juan Paul Valdez” prophecy, which I was very skeptical about, and when I incited the debate to question the veracity, the credibility of that “prophecy” began to plummet. I personally felt it has been a good learning experience for me.

Internet connection also began to enter campus around 1996-1997 and in the computer center we had to use Unix terminal and learned to use Pine and Lynx.Hotmail emerged around that time and followed by yahoo mail, and I managed to register my name as the user names there.

Right after 1998, I felt that there was a rise of new mailing lists along with the establishment of Egroups and its later acquisition by yahoo to becomeyahoogroups. Also, ICQ emerged as the first instant messaging application, and I got seven digit registration numbers. These two internet applications (mailing list and IM) played an important role in my life (cie ileh!) because that’s how I got to know my husband. I met him through an architecture mailing list and got intouch with him everyday through IM. Around 1997-1998 I got to know google too, and I was impressed by the accuracy of the search result (I felt google was really good in its early days and currently the search result is not as good as in late 1990s.. anyway now google needs search through a lot of junk and spam websites, maybe that’s why there’s a decline in its search quality).

From 1999 to 2003 my internet life largely revolved around mailing lists and IM, I didn’t spend too much time in the websites, until Iqbal set up our wedding website in indrani.net and he taught me about blogging, a way for me and Indi to update our family members back home in Indonesia. 2003 was also marked by a rise in social networking websites (it started as a genuine fun or even a productivity tool, but now it becomes more of an annoyance and a distraction for me..). Currently, I felt quite involved in blogs and wikis, while emails and IM has become an indispensable “given”. And, what’s next? I can’t really predict.

The funny thing is that, the people who were actively involved during the 1990s (the chatting community) disappeared now. People seemed to prefer to stick to only one medium or application that they’re familiar with. For example, the people who were active inusenet can’t be found in blogs. People who blog do not really involved in usenet or wiki. And usually, wikipedians do not blog (at least the indonesian wikipedians). Most of the members of the chatting community dissapeared, and only a few continued to follow the current platform such as blogs or wiki (i.e. Yanti, Priyadi, Shinta0). I dunno, I might be wrong with my conclusion here.

Looking back, in 1990s I perceived getting online as “a visit”, and I saw the internet as a little virtual town which acts as a virtual mirror of our daily life in which distance and traveling becomes insignificant. Now I don’t see it that way, but rather, I see it as uploading and downloading chunks of remote information (gladly I don’t seeinternet as tubes, though).

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