“I had a home computer, with slow as a wet week dial-up internet”

“I had a home computer, with slow as a wet week dial-up internet,” Tim Foster said, “which would take about five minutes alone to connect.” This was my Dad’s response when I asked what his first experience with the internet was. He first got internet in the early 90’s and said that while there was a fair bit of accessible information, it was painfully slow to download anything. He mainly used it for emailing.

The general opinion at the time, he thought, was that the internet was the future of communication. You were either on board or left behind, and to not have internet meant that you were in the dark. In today’s society, Tim believes that the internet has now become a part of everyday life. “If you wanted to buy something you had to resort to the yellow pages, you’d make dozens of calls to find the store with the best price,” he said, “Nowadays, you can do a simple google search and you can find whatever you want from around the world, in seconds.”

But time has moved on, and so has my Dad. In the house, Tim uses three devices to access the internet, his desktop computer, tablet, and his mobile phone. Data plans? ADSL through a hardwired modem for the desktop computer and Wi-Fi, a Telstra dongle for wireless internet, and two mobile data packages.

In terms of interaction, Tim says he swears at the internet, a lot. But that’s not his only interaction, he also uses the internet for other things, primarily checking and sending emails, searching for information, checking the weather, and shopping online. In general, Tim believes the internet has made the world a smaller place, which in his eyes, is a good thing, because it opens the world to lots of communities, especially in countries that have manipulated media broadcasts such as North Korea where the dictatorship reigns supreme.

When our conversation turned towards the NBN, Tim could only express his frustrations. Due to living in a remote area and being too far from the trunk line and phone exchange, it looks unlikely that our house will be able to access this privilege. “Unless they run a line between Berry and Shoalhaven Heads, we’ll never get it,” he said. But all things considered, Tim is quite happy with the internet he currently enjoys.

Image by Steve Rhodes

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