Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Net Bloomers

One thing I was realizing this morning while I was getting ready to go to work, was how much my life has revolved, nay developed around the internet. I can remember a time when mailing letters and spending $200 on a phone bill to call home from school was normal, but I can't fathom spending that money now. For the past 15 years my life has been determined, both for good and for bad, by the growth of the Internet. I set my mom up with CompuServe so she could email my brother and I at school, and save on postage and the costs of a phone call. I used instant messaging well before there was such a thing - we used the Unix "talk" function from server to server.

Wanted to write about something, and have it where friends from all over could read about it? Create a web page! Web logs hadn't really been invented yet, but folks were doing it; they had to code it in HTML, or maybe create up a perl script-based site that they could just post updates too. No fancy web-2.0 to make it do. My first adult jobs were helping folks connect to the Internet - I had an internship at Harris and a student job at UCF that were based around TCP/IP and getting folks online.

First job out of college? I was a "telecommunications coordinator"... it was more of an IT job than a router job, but I got exposed to USRobotics dialup equipment, Cisco routers, and even more deeply into TCP/IP than I thought was possible.

I've been a web server administrator, a router jockey, and a planner. I turned up DSL when you had to order "alarm circuits" from the local phone company and not tell them what it was for. I rattled the sabers to have the "little" ISP I worked for be able to resell ADSL with one of the biggest phone companies in the US. I learned ATM, BGP, OSPF, RIP and a variety of other acronyms by necessity, I'd go do searches on AltaVista for resources and read. I didn't have the time or the money to go get my CCIE, although I wanted it. Now, while I wouldn't refuse getting it, I don't see the value in it anymore.

In a world that values "get in and get out as quickly as you can", I've been with 3 companies since I graduated from UCF in 1996. I've grown each companies brand, I've put a piece of myself into everything I've done, and I can say that I have some level of pride on what I created. Not that the networks were ever pretty, or the best, but that with nothing I've been repeatedly a part of organizations that succeed.

I know that many like to place people like me into "Generation X", but I really think that we are the "Net Bloomers"; we don't always get the glory, but we have been what the Internet grows on. We've been the early adopters, the ones that see the need for a service and create it. Once others see folks like us doing something, they create the business model for it. Much like the hobbiest that created PC's from kits in the 70's, we created services for the Internet with basic building blocks.

Maybe that's worth writing about, maybe it's just something good to keep around to read myself later on, or to have as a written document to give to my grandchildren about the "early days of the Internet generation(s)". Considering that people 50 years ago could barely hear each others voices across town, you really have to wonder what things will be like 50 years from now.

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