Meet my sibling – Modem

Picture this: a candy-crush-obsessed mother; a father who says “what” after any sentence due to a slight case of industrial deafness; a better-than-me-at-everything sister; a seriously odd brother; me, a youngest, slave child; plus a brother-in-law; sister-in-law; and two shoulder-obsessed budgies all sitting in a lounge room together. Naturally, due to this weird assortment, when I sat them all down to discuss our Internet antics, by the end of the conversation we were all shaking our heads and sighing, “shit we do some weird stuff in this house.”
This is, shamefully, a glimpse into what it was like growing up surrounded by the Internet in my household.

We are the not-so-proud owners of a hideous, hidden by books, Internet modem that provides us with unlimited access each month. This modem serves 2 desktops, 3 laptops, a minimum of 6 phones, 2 ipads, Foxtel, and I don’t even know what else. But it does a terrible, terrible job. NBN is yet to be existent in my suburb, or any suburb surrounding me (seriously look at the map below, it’s like I live in a NBN-deprived crater), and so every single night, without fail, someone in my family will exclaim, “what is wrong with the internet today”, “who’s been using all the internet” or “Blake, what have you been downloading you weirdo, the Internet is being so slow.”

Screen Shot 2015-08-24 at 6.54.28 pm
NBN avoiding my area http://www.nbnco.com.au/connect-home-or-business/check-your-address/outside-rollout.html

And that is how it has always been – growing up with one main internet-enabled computer, there would often be fights over whose turn it is to talk to boyfriends or girlfriends on MSN (I can’t even count how many times I’ve been pushed off the computer chair in my life). To add to the drama, my parents run their own business and so my mum was also thrown into the ring, contending for the prestigious prize of computer time.

Speaking to my mum about why she didn’t attempt some form of chart to control these brawls, she says that it would’ve been too hard to control since we all needed it at different times and for different purposes and this varied too much day to day. In saying that though, I don’t recall spending a huge amount of time on the Internet; besides MSN and the occasional research for a school project, there wasn’t many sites that I used until I was of an age that I could have my own device to use it on. This is not the case for my older sister since internet-enabled devices did not become prevalent until she was pretty far into her cringe-worthy teens. And this is where our first story begins. My sister and her boyfriend, young, dumb and device-less, were in desperate need for some X-rated information and like very smart, very secretive little teens decided that the shared home computer was a good place to start. Needleless to say, my mum got a bit of a shock when she did her weekly scan of the internet history and saw that her ‘baby’ was doing not-so-babyish things. Ahhhh sissy, you won’t make that mistake again will you? Quote from mum: “I’m sort of glad that I cant read everything on all of your phones, I think I’d have a heartattack”. I’m glad too Mum.

Moving on, mum recalls when the Internet first rose to the thrown and how much of a learning curve it was for her since she was so used to just reaching for a book or a dictionary whenever she needed to know something. The worst part, according to mum, was that her eldest daughter knew more about it than she did since she was being taught how to use it at school. Mum recalls boys in primary school with my sister being so tech savvy that they worked around school firewalls and could print out some pretty inappropriate pictures on the school computers, “the kids were getting more computer savvy than what adults were.” And as my mother struggles violently to get past a level of Candy Crush while I type, it’s pretty obvious that that dynamic is still prevalent in my household, and many others.

Check out the changing perspectives of the Internet from adults and children:

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Younger and older than the Internet

Stalder (2005, pp. 63-64) neatly sums up the immeasurable difference that new information can make by stating that “Change is neither additive nor subtractive in an integrated environment; it is ecological. One significant change generates total change. If a species is removed from a given habitat, what remains is not the same environment minus that one species, the result is a new environment and the conditions of survival within it have been reconstituted. This is also how the ecology of information works. New flows of information can change everything.”

This is perhaps never more evident than in the creation of the Internet – this huge technological evolution changed everything. From the telegraph to the huge abyss we now find ourselves immersed in that is cyberspace, it is these globally integrated information networks that have had the greatest impact on the formation of the network society.

This podcast explores perspectives on the Internet from both a 52 year-old woman who witnessed its emergence as well as children aged 9-12 who were born into a world which was already heavily dependent on it.

Reference:

Stalder, F 2005, ‘Information Ecology’ in New Media Center_kuda.org, Open Cultures and the Nature of Networks, Futura publikacije, Serbia, pp. 62-66.