Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Dad, What's Dial Up Internet?

My son recently asked me about a book he read that said that the character couldn't use the phone because it was being used by the computer.  This struck him as both odd and funny.  And as I tried to explain what dial up internet was like, it took him some time to get the concept.  For him and so many others of that generation, the internet is an always on phenomenon.  The computer is always connected, the tablet, the smartphone, all instantly have access to the web.  That the phone must be connected to the computer makes no sense; it is connected independently allowing us to talk on the phone while we surf the web. 

The idea of having to tell the computer to dial in to your ISP to access mail still exists in some parts, but for the vast majority of us with a broadband connection, those days are long gone.  One must go and watch the 1998 movie, "You've Got Mail", a film now 16 years old, older than my son, to see the characters dial in to AOL, here the familiar buzz, and learn that they have indeed got mail. 

I remember fondly all those AOL cd-roms being available free of charge to get the software to download and start your trial membership.  Since then, the AOL business model has changed from subscription membership revenue to an ad supported one.  But those days were not so far ago.  How quickly we forget the changes that have happened in our connectivity.  We are now so connected that anytime our broadband access fails, we agitate as our webpages no longer refresh or connect to the video we seek to watch.  An always on internet connection has become as important as shelter, food, and clothing.  What's dial up - that has now become a history lesson. 

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