There was some discussion amongst friends and family around the dinner table tonight about the Internet. Someone quipped that our kids were going to grow up in a world where the idea of no Internet is silly. It's just there.
The thought was disturbing to some, but to me, I am the one who grew up with the Internet. Let me explain.
Ever since I watched WarGames when I was a kid and saw that computers could be used to connect to each other, I was hooked. I had to connect computers and the people at either end.
When my family finally got a PC clone with a modem, I remember dialing up to a friend's computer, just so we could type back and forth to each other. Of course, only one of us could type at a time. But right there we had independently invented the Internet, social networks, IM, etc.
Later I picked up some long-distance BBS phone numbers from some pirated C64 games. Despite the penalty for unauthorized long-distance calls in the house, I had to connect to these BBSes. It was amazing, and while connected, I found phone numbers for local BBSes. I could connect without fear (but not without the good chance of someone picking up the phone and ruining my connection!).
So it turned out that there were nerds like me out there who wanted to connect their computers and their experiences with each other. There were message boards, multiplayer BBS games and pirated software. There was Fidonet for messages between BBSes, and lo-and-behold, one of the local BBSes offered a real Internet email address and Usenet access for a one-time $10 fee.
Eventually I got a hold of a dial-in number to a Kent State University mainframe. It had a Gopher client installed and I think it was CERN that offered a Gopher-to-WWW gateway or something. Anyhow, my first experience browsing the web was using Lynx via Gopher over a 2400bps modem. I think I get some nerd points for that.
By this point I was connecting to computers and people all over the world. It was/is awesome. Since then I've learned to program thanks to countless open-source devotees on the Internet, met some people who have become great friends over the Internet and I do 99% of my work remotely over the Internet.
To bring this in for a landing, I think it's cool that at Bump (where I work) my job is to write software that lets people use the Internet to connect in new ways. The Internet is not this scary, far-away place. It's right there in your hand, helping you connect with people just like it always has.