Community Challenge – Explaining the Internet

I find it an interesting contradiction that the people who have the most access to computers these days are often those who understand them the least.

When I touched my first Apple ][e I was obsessed with how it worked. How does the code do what it does when it’s just line after line of green text on a black background? I painstakingly copied text out of magazines to make my very own version of Downhill Skier and whatever else I could get my hands on. I had cassette tapes (yes, you read that right, cassettes) filled with various games and programs and I knew how each and every one of them worked because I watched it form beneath my fingertips.

And then, wow, the internet‽ Where do I even begin‽ It was wonderful, when it was working. We left our 14.4 modems to churn overnight on game patches, waited patiently while everything saved to our tiny tiny hard drives. We played games that quite frankly looked like minecraft and they were amazing! Doom, Wolfenstein, Quake and so on. And then the MMO space opened up, and suddenly I was playing with people all over the world!  I was a part of a community with shared interests and turmoils.

So what happened between now and then? Why is there a complete lack of understanding of how computers and the internet work for those who grew up with them? Is it just so taken for granted that the desire to learn how and why is gone? Why do I daily have to explain to people that connecting to a game server isn’t like plugging in a cable between their computer and our servers. That seems to escape so many people, of all ages.

When did we start taking this all for granted? Where did we exchange the quest for knowledge for the quest to be first/famous/heard? How did we lose the wonder part of this wonderful world we live in?

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