Technology is Circular

When I first entered the ‘internet’ back in 1995, it was in a cultish, text-based predecessor to chatrooms known as a talker. Talkers were more than places to chat to strangers – they were communities where you could make yourself a little home and indulge your imagination to your heart’s content. And people did. Sometimes a little too much. Miserable housewives became gorgeous princesses in beautiful castles, with knights competing for a chance at their hand. Bored, pimply, horny students discovered ‘net.sex’ (aka ‘cybering’ these days). It was the perfect addiction – except for the fact that back in those days, internet access was expensive and bandwidth jealously guarded. So many ‘spods’ lived in fear of losing their free university-granted internet access or of their talker being shut down by an indignant IT department.

I was struck with a wave of nostalgia recently. It had two causes – firstly, a random comment by Andrew Boyd about internet life ‘back in the day’ which made me think back to days spent talking to virtual strangers and – in a fun adventure – wandering around Australia visiting some of them. Secondly, reading about newish technologies like Twitter and Plurk. I read about those and thought to myself, “That’s just a very, very cut-down talker, with a different tech underneath it!” Huh. Fancy that.

It makes sense, though. Technology has to be circular at times. We’ll always embellish, improve and discard the old… and we’ll often discover that something we discarded has some useful elements we can rediscover and renovate. And the old talkers had an appeal that will always cause some element of them to turn up in our ‘new’ innovations.

Meanwhile, I’ve wandered back to my net.roots to check out how talkers are going these days. Sure enough, they’re still around, and the ‘spods’ are still active. There ya go.

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5 Responses

  1. I fondly recall playing those text based RPGs, as opposed to the graphical extravaganzas we have now. You remember the ones” You walk into a room. To the north is….” etc etc. So much more imagination involved (and cheaper PCs!)

  2. there are cycles to everything aye? Even technology 🙂

  3. Suze – I do indeed 🙂 I was never too fond of the RPGs though – preferred to just talk!

  4. Bettina – yup, indeedy 😉

  5. Naomi, thanks for linking to my post about Plurk. Technology is indeed very circular. I remember spending hours chatting to people online using very basic chat rooms that then developed into IRC. Nowdays, the interface is shiny but the purpose is still the same. Just goes to prove we are a very social species.

    Suze: I loved text based RPGs. I spent years on one called Ancient Anguish. Instead of studying, I mudded. They were so much fun and Ancient Anguish at least is still around today.

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