Internet: Thanks for everything.
Howdy, everyone. My name is Paul Treiber, and I am an internet junkie. I'm in my fourth year of college and second at the U of M. I used to be a Computer Science major, but after a year in the major, I found that I liked language better. Currently, I'm a full-time student majoring in Asian Languages and Literature (Japanese Subplan). I hope to teach English in Japan, China, and Korea after graduating. After soaking in as much language and culture as I can from those three countries, I would like to become an interpreter. I enjoy all kinds of music, but my favorite is classical--especially Bach (I know, technically, he's baroque), Beethoven, Chopin, and Rachmaninov. I love to play piano, but I'm a little out of practice since coming to college. I also love to read nonfiction, biographies, online comics, history, and classic novels. I love camping, but I haven't really been out of the city in the last year. I have actually worked for an online university for the last four years, so I'm very curious to finally participate in an online course.
I miss command-line interface (I was so used to DOS 6.0) and BBSes. I began keeping a journal at the age of 5 on my parents' first computer, which had a chip that ran at about...20 MHz, if I remember correctly. It also had two 5-inch floppy drives and a green monochrome monitor. In 1992, we got a computer with a 386 chip (a whooping 33 MHz!), 3.5 inch floppy drive, and a color monitor. I remember playing Wolfenstein 3D, Gorillas, and Snakes (the last two are games in BASIC! Woo!). I enjoyed creating macros in DOS, writing short stories, and making short songs using the beep function in DOS (I got carried away once and wrote out Für Elise...) Our uncle upgraded his modem in '92 or '93 and sent us his old 2400 baud modem--8 times better than our 300 baud one! My family went to the library often when I was very young, and my dad always picked up the newest issue of Computer User. In the back, there were listings for local BBSes, and many of them had simple games. At the age of 8, I began to play "door games" such as Exitilus, Legend of the Red Dragon (LORD), Planets, Trade Wars, The Pit, and many more on these BBSes. They had daily limits on your actions, such as being able to search for monsters to fight only 30 times, and this limit was reset every day at midnight. I got so involved in these games that, for a while, I would set the alarm on my watch for midnight and go play whichever game was my favorite at the time until I ran out of turns. Around the same time, we found out that we could make library reservations by dialing into the library BBS. We could also surf the limited web through it, but only by using text commands (awesome!). Even though I was only 9 or so by that point, and it was text-only, I was completely captivated. Little did I imagine the possibilities that have been realized in today's internet.
O'Reilly's comparison of the ongoing development of the internet to the formation of synapses in the brain makes so much sense. I thought it was a great metaphor for one of the central ideas of Web 2.0: users are ultimately going to improve the internet through their sheer numbers. Through email/text/blog/comment, they not only help draw more people to interesting and useful sites, but they also help improve content and services for all users. This is what amazes me most about Web 2.0: continual improvement in which any user can participate! Although there are plenty of users who do not make positive contributions (I stay far, far away from most discussion boards), sites like Wikipedia, eBay, and Google have expanded the possibilties for user involvement in a profound way. I see it as a great chance for people to participate in democratic action, because even one person can have a tangible effect on those services. Web 1.0 was machine-based, and thus was limited by the collective imagination and intelligence of its designers. Web 2.0 is user-based and does not have that limitation (not that it does not have any). I regularly use Wikipedia, Google, Amazon, CNet, and Pandora.