Crossing the Chasm

07Apr08

Ok, I’ll admit, I come from a family of technology laggards. I didn’t actually have a functioning home computer until I was going into 8th grade. Well, I had a computer but it was this enormous, old IBM that looked like this:

It had a monitor that showed text and images in varying shades of green. It came with one 8 inch floppy disk game that would add variations of super-pixilated hair, noses, eyes, eyebrows and mouths to a character’s face and asked me what changes were made to the face… yup, super exciting stuff and remember, this all happened in varying shades of green. I coveted this game:

Oregon Trail was so cool and I was jealous of anyone with home access to play; I mean, just check out that use of color.

Fortunately for me, Maine was surprisingly ahead of its time. Every school I was ever in when I grew up was outfitted with a huge computer lab and computer class was part of the curriculum even during my elementary school days. Our school system in Maine had a deal with Apple so we had access to cutting edge computers like:

And, even better, we had access (via Netscape) to the Web.

Finally, in 8th grade, my parents bought a Gateway and subscribed to America Online so we’d have access to the Web and, more importantly at the time, to freely instant message my friends on AIM (SN: amandam1623; 1623 because I was a total theater geek and 1623 was the year of the first printing of Shakespeare’s First Folio. Yeah, I was pretty cool.). Still, I use the word “access” quite loosely because it took us 20 minutes to dial up and even more to load a page with a lot of content. Watching video online was, as you’d imagine, out of the question.

My freshman year of college was really the year that I finally got fully connected to digital technology. I got my first cell phone (an old Nokia that, again, only showed varying shades of green), was connected via my dorm’s high-speed Ethernet connection and Wi-Fi in our classrooms and was persuaded to join Facebook 4 years ago when my R.A. told me and my dormmates on the first day of orientation that we HAD to try out this new site that just hit the Web. I was determined to rise above my laggard roots so I gave into peer pressure and built my first profile. I got a lot of pleasure from knowing that I was part of an exclusive network.

Four years later and my digital dorm room is worth $15 billion, I’m addicted to Twitter and blogging, I search for private beta invites on InviteShare, pay to have my apartment fully connected with WiFi, buy all of my music and movies from iTunes, get most of my news from blogs and memes, travel everywhere with my BlackBerry, iPod and laptop and have made it my job to teach my colleagues and clients about the latest developments in the digital world. Recently, I was at a conference live-tweeting my takeaways and very happily realized that I’ve crossed the chasm; I’ve fully graduated from laggard to total, steadfast geek.

-Amanda Mooney

Images from here, here and here.

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6 Responses to “Crossing the Chasm”

  1. 1 Sarah

    OMG I CAN’T BELIEVE YOUR SN NUMBERS WERE A SHAKESPEARIAN DATE. I couldn’t help the CAPS too funny!!!!

  2. Amanda… your article is quite cute!

    I guess I would add that for those of us not born in the 80’s, the idea that an IBM PC was behind the times is shocking. I remember when they first came out. When I started college the Internet was barely alive. No one had cell phones. We had to go to the library to check email, and email was only text based. I used a computer in 5th grage, but there were only 5 of them in the school and it loaded programs from not a disk but a tape dirve – yes the same kind of tape that you would put into a walkman. It was a Radio Shack computer (yes, they used to make computers). I am sure I am starting to sound like the old man that “walked to school uphill both ways”…

    You should think about doing a profile of someone who did not grow up with this technology, but has now adopted it – someone your parent’s age for instance. I think that the people who really crossed the chasm are the onse where not only was the actual technology a bit of a challenge, but where the whole idea of interacting with people in this way is hard to get used to.

  3. And now you are a fantastic teacher of all things Social Media! :) I have learned so much from you, it’s crazy.

    By the way, I used to spend HOURS over at my friends’ house playing Oregon Trail, but we had the green screen (no color for us). Man, to go back to the days when the highlight of the afternoon was going “hunting” after those deer that ran sideways into rocks . . .

    And I can totally relate to the rest of your post. I remember when IM became huge, especially in college. It’ll be interesting to see how things change in the next 10 years.

  4. 4 Aubree

    Ever notice that for all the ‘flavors’ of iMacs, there was never a “lemon” ? That always amused me. ;)

    I’ve been very entertained by the success of the Oregon Trail application on Facebook, clearly speaking to the nostalgia for the good old days of pixelated graphics and single-tasking, while running as a small FB app along many others in one of multiple browser windows, to be sure.


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