What's your relationship with technology?

I was thinking about this a bit today because I was babbling on about how its fantastic I can tunnel down some esoteric rabbithole online to figure out the answer to any inane little question I have, or tap into a forum full of enthusiasts for a hobby that would otherwise have never bumped across my radar (like this one, or for fountain pens) and how crazy it is that our parents used to have to use typewriters and stuff for their essays.*

I literally thought that people stopped using typewriters in like, the 1900’s, until my dad flippantly mentioned he used to use one when he was doing essays in school, and yeah, he had to actually go to the library and pray they had the right reference book in stock, rather than whizzing through an online database with oodles of articles. I think the last time I was in a physical library for actual reference was when I was like, a freshman in highschool. I go to the university one mostly just for a space to study, and also to sit down and ogle through old books they have about plants or Shakespeare plays or whatever looks good on the shelves.

He still keeps his huge zippy case of CDs he burned back when he was younger, sharpied titles and all on them- I remember being teeny tiny and humming and hawing over the best CD to play, feeling quite proud of myself for being ‘grown up enough’ for him to entrust me with such an important task as picking out jams and tunes for long drives, and it inevitably being the same damn pop song over and over and over again. Bless him for putting up with me blasting Jesse McCartney on loop on the highway. I introduced him to Spotify, but he prefers to download his music / listen to his CDs still- he still shakes his head sometimes at the whole streaming service thing.

With me and my friends, we’re all roughly around the same age, (in our twenties, basically) but not all of our families hopped on board with new tech at the same time. For example, while I was allowed onto the family computer unsupervised as a precocious five year old who was small enough I had to be helped into the office chair, (I mostly played Neopets, and slowly hunted around on PubMed to see more about the contents of our house’s encyclopedias- I remember a pop up anatomy book we had especially since I was terrified of the muscle flayed man grinning from the plastic-y pages, a plant one that had a lovely section on ornamental roses and carnivorous plants I was too tiny to pick up and read in my lap like my Peter Rabbit storybook I read to tatters, so I had to let it lie down on the carpet and read while lying down, an OB-GYN one that I found creepy because of the fetal illustrations and food comparisons, and so on), I wasn’t allowed a cellphone until I was like, sixteen.

As a result, I hit around ~110-120 WPM when typing on a keyboard with effort, and hover nearer to 90-100 WPM when just browsing, but I can’t text for the life of me in a timely fashion. Apparently, I ‘type like a dad’ according to my friends, since I usually grip my phone with my left hand like holding onto a subway pole, and tap with my right index finger. I think that’s hilarious. One of my other friends didn’t get a laptop or really to muck around on a computer much until she was fourteen or so, and she hunt-and-peck types, which I find kind of funny. (She teases me lightheartedly for my texting habits, so all’s fair in the wash.)

Anyways… I’m kinda curious what everyone’s relationship to technology is. I grew up with the internet just being a given, but I was super late onto the whole texting thing- my friends say I text like I’m sending them e-mails on top of holding my phone ‘like a dad.’ I can type superfast though, and grew up with having a personal computer for most of my adolescence, so it’d definitely be weird to not have my own laptop around- so many of my hobbies are related to it- writing, researching things I’m interested in, doing art, talking to my friends, listening to new tunes, etc.

*For reference: I’m 21, and my dad isn’t my biological father- so he’s quite young, he’s in his thirties. My friends run the gamut of 20 to 29.


I worked my way through college as a typesetter, part of which job often involved just straight typing, so I know I used to be able to type some 170 WPM. My high school had had a required typing class (IBM Selectrics – this was still when a computer per student was a fantastical notion) so I already knew how to touch-type. I don’t get anywhere near that speed now, though – it’s way faster than I think.

You’d probably have to work hard to find a 10-year-old who couldn’t run circles around me on an iPad. If it doesn’t have a UNIX-ish command line, I don’t know what the hell to do with it.

But give me a command line and I’m pretty good at it.


I was always interested in computer technology growing up, but for me that meant a c64. No internet and certainly no texting.

I think my generation was the last to hardly ever know where their friends were or what they were doing. If I wanted to find a friend on a Friday night, I had to drive around looking and asking people. I first experienced the internet when I was 17, but it was a vax system with a MUD and email. I wouldn’t see a browser or a newsreader for two more years. Laser printers became widely available for my high school and college papers, thank goodness. Tractor feed printers were miserable.

I was in my late twenties when I got my first cell phone, and mid thirties when I got my first smartphone. They’re nice, but it’s kind of a bummer that people expect you to be available to talk/text at any time. You used to be able to take the phone off the hook and that time was entirely yours.

I used to build my own computers and spend most of my free time on tech. That changed when I got a job in IT. I didn’t want to work on computers all day just to come home and work on them some more. I am spending a lot of time on Inform 7 these days, but that’s because I’m bad at it.

I can’t relate to seeing past tech as strange. It’s just what people did. My father learned to type on a manual typewriter because everyone else his age did. Everything we think is new will be obsolete. These things happen quickly.

I dumped my CDs in 2011. I didn’t have anywhere to put them. Streaming is better anyway.

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Honestly, most of our younger siblings are way better than us at mucking around on their iPads. I’m pretty terrible at using touchscreens in general, mostly because I get overwhelmed when stuff starts flying all over the place or countless menus swipe and swoop up- I got a new phone a few months back, and I’m still struggling to adjust to the lack of a home button.

Sometimes I feel like I fall into a weird awkward stage where people slightly older than me remember having to fix their computers and stuff on their own as well as actually spending time outdoors or MIA for awhiles without anyone freaking out, but people slightly younger than me grew up in a totally different digital landscape (I especially notice this in terms of social conventions in Fandom spaces, since I dabble with writing fanfiction for funsies.) I have relatives who are only a few years older or a few years younger than me, and it’s kind of weird how different our perspectives are when it comes to the whole Internet-y thing.

That’s something I hear a lot from people who’re older than me in general, but especially from one friend of mine who’s hiking up the hill to 30 soon- you used to be able to just kinda disappear for awhile and no one cared, since it was totally normal to zonk out and do whatever. (He also grew up in the middle of literally nowhere, in a really rural area, so they were sort of in a timewarp overall.) The idea of that is so bizarre to me. Meanwhile, nowadays if you don’t log in for a day or whatever, or ghost someone over the weekend, I’m pretty sure my friends would think something terrible had happened to me, hahahaha. I keep my phone on silent 24/7 though, which is apparently weird to most of my peers. Push notifications are just so obtrusive, it totally kills my workflow otherwise. (I guess that’s why my professors complain about cellphones killing kids’ attention spans these days, LOL.)

I do like how much easier it is to keep in touch with people in some regards, though- like videocalling extended family overseas who otherwise I’d never really get to meet, or making sure my friends got home from work or a night out safely. The expectation and biting little demands to crank open your inboxes can be super tiresome though. Maybe that’s why digital detoxes are so trendy?

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We had a computer growing up, although I don’t know what kind it was. I played Zork on it in about 1980, and many more text adventures after that. There must have been some kind of computer literacy courses in my high school, but if so, they didn’t make me take any. I went to college in 1989, and I had a whizbang typewriter that displayed three lines of text in a small screen so you could check them before they actually printed onto the paper, and I wrote every paper on it. In the mid 90s, for my second degree, I had to take a computer course and I don’t remember a thing about it except that I hated it.

I spent years working in Bio labs doing everything the old-fashioned way. For radiolabeled molecules in gel: film and a darkroom. I had to isolate my own restriction enzymes. We used mouth pipettes. Total dark ages.

I got my first cell phone two years ago, and I hate it. I hate texting. Almost no one even knows that I converted my landline number into a cell phone, because I don’t want to text, and because I see how impatient people are if they want to communicate with someone who doesn’t respond RIGHT NOW. They aren’t impatient with me, because I’m the landline person.

And I struggle with doing absolutely everything on my computer.

My relationship with technology is not deep and loving.


I have a series of adapters that allow my new, non-headphone-jack-having smartphone to connect to a dummy cassette tape in order to play music through my ancient car stereo. Technology is a beautiful thing.


I only discovered yesterday that my new phone doesn’t have a headphone jack. What the hell! So now I have to use Bluetooth to send my music the short distance between my pocket and my ears? That seems gratuitous and unnecessary.

My parents didn’t have a lot of money when they first settled in the UK together and though us kids didn’t want for anything, we were late adopters with a lot of technology until we were better off. We got our first colour TV in about 1980, and until then I was convinced that Doctor Who’s K-9 was rust-red, because he was the same shade of grey that corresponded with that colour.

At some point we got a thing called a TV game which plugged into our TV and allowed us to play a range of Pong-like games. Eventually it died when the AA batteries that powered it leaked, making an indelible stain on the lounge carpet.

On Christmas Day 1983 we got our first home computer, an Acorn Electron, and it wasn’t long after that that I discovered text adventure games. This was a shared computer, though it was mainly my brother and I who used it; my sister never showed much interest. Eventually I got my own machine, a BBC Master Compact. The Master Compact had a disc drive, which eliminated the ten minute wait you had to endure while loading a program from cassette.

My parents bought our first VHS machine when I was studying for my ‘O’ Level exams, principally so that I could record my favourite shows and wouldn’t be distracted from revising. We used to walk down to the local Video shop and rent Monty Python and John Hughes movies and bad rip-offs of Gremlins.

I continued my practice of being a late adopter after I left home. I didn’t have a computer of any kind between the ages of 20 and 27. That includes mobile phones, which at the time were exactly that, phones. I was the last of my friends to get a smart phone and I’m generally always using a model that is five years out of date. However I now work for myself and I need a very fast computer for my work. I also now have a modern phone.

I use Spotify, but I miss buying CDs. Music now feels very disposable, it’s fun to discover a new band or album, but instead of playing it again and again as I would with a newly purchased CD, I quickly move onto something else. It takes the ceremony out of it.

Occasionally I still watch terrestrial TV, though less and less. If I’m working from home I might flip through the channels while eating my lunch.

I still have a landline, and in pride of place on one of my side tables is a 1974 GPO rotary phone, which I bought from the design museum. It’s the same model we had when I was a kid, and I love the sound of the bell and the noise it makes when you dial a number. Hardly anyone ever calls me on it.


I like high-technology as a rule but don’t adore it - an attitude that’s fairly common among IT technicians (if we didn’t like it, we’d not work the job, but we spend too much of the day seeing tech break in silly ways and mess people around to romanticise it).

I’m used to being good at using computers but bad at any technology requiring touchscreen use or that assumes neurotypical cognitive/sensory processing. The former makes sense because my family was early in terms of interesting their children in PCs. So even though I was limited to 1 hour per day, starting that time at age 2 with a teacher (Dad) who wanted me to know how to use it for many purposes rather than only games, meant that by school age I was confident on a lot of programs. The only IT class at school where I hadn’t learned the content before taking it was one at age 5 about an tomato with emotional buttons that stressed me out because the teacher forgot to tell us that there was a parser as well as the 6 giant buttons allowing children to make the tomato cry/laugh/look angry, then wondered why I hadn’t guessed that typing words was an option, “You like typing words!”. (I couldn’t see the regular keyboard past the special one, nor was the prompt on screen like DOS, WordPerfect and King’s Quest taught me it should have been - but as my spoken vocabulary was in single digits at the time, I couldn’t tell the teacher that. My parents had to do so later…)

By 14, I’d outgrown my school’s IT offering (they thought GCSE IT would be too simple to hold my interest) and so I was directed to evening classes to take more specialised IT applications courses. Eventually that led to a suite of administrative and medical IT courses.

Thus I was happy to try technologies - but as I got older, I learned that the preferred implementation of “good design norms” often contradicted my accessibility needs. Web 1 was fantastic for me provided I avoided some of the sillier gimmicks. Web 2 progressively less-so. I was happy on my iPaq Messenger PDA “mini computer” with its clicking, reliable integrated keyboard until its battery gave out after 8 years of service. That was my second mobile phone, the first having been given to me when I left for university (didn’t need one before then - who would I have rung?).

Modern and semi-modern smartphones are out of the question at this point because half the time, the screen doesn’t respond to my fingers (and often doesn’t respond in a logical manner when it does respond). My parents made the mistake of getting me an iPad 2 when I was ill in hospital. It took 6 months before I was able to use it at all (during convaelescence, I instead used my laptop when I didn’t want to wrestle with tech instead of focusing on recovery), and it’s still a rare day I’m able to do so because of its unresponsiveness. Due to a complicated trick, I managed to use a desktop PC to get the iPad to display my work diary when the JobCentre wanted to see it with me only needing to turn the power on at the JobCentre end, which saved a lot of trees but was very stressful. Not having to do that was one of the few good things about COVID.

More than one employer has rejected me for jobs because they claim it is impossible for me to repair smartphones I can’t use, even though I’ve been doing it on-and-off for nearly a decade by this point (other people operate it, I tell them what they should press). Thus, the equipment I use tend to be old enough to be called “retro” by people who are lazy about such descriptors (or recruiters, who consider it a selling point for my line of work), and “potato” by everyone else. My visual novel has some music on it processed through Windows 3.1 software. The only parts involving equipment less than 10 years old were the keyboard (upgraded this week for the first time since 1997) and the time spent on play-testers’ computers.

Since one of my early favorite games was the original Civilization, “technology” doesn’t automatically mean “things invented after I was born” to me. That, and the fact I used a typewriter through my primary school years despite the family computer being right there in the next room. Yes, that included schoolwork when it was set (though back then teachers did not assume computers were available at home).

I still have my CD collection, though it may be some time before I get to play any of them on my hi-fi system again due to speaker installation issues. All of the songs are on my computer, along with a load of digital ones (many songs I like have never had physical releases and would never have reached me in the pre-internet age due to genre or unpopularity) - and in practice that’s how I tend to listen to music. I had a couple of streaming services for about 3 years but stopped when I decided I was still discovering more new music through other routes than I was via the “discovery” services, and it was more inconvenient for me than a desktop music player. I have a small dedicated music player with a dodgy battery, which occasionally sees use for long car journeys. (There’s a curated playlist of about 400 songs, mostly rock/pop/symphonic metal approved by the family with the occasional Swedish-language heavy metal track or kamencheh duet in there).

Between the extensive early experience with computers, experience live-commenting motorsport while unemployed as a young adult and current requirements at work, I average out at 72 wpm across an hour of working on computer problems over the phone (something I need because I want people to know exactly what happened on my calls). I don’t know what my pure typing speed is nowadays because it’s rarely relevant - I’m usually either mixing it with deep thinking or multi-tasking.

Nobody in my family is impressed with text-speak, so even though I know the basic text lingo, I always write in grammatical English.

My friends know I’m perfectly capable of not knowing if I’ve been texted for a week after being sent the tweet because I rarely look at my phone between charges unless I have a specific reason to do so and my 8-year-old phone’s battery can last 10 days if I don’t spend time looking for things that probably won’t be there because sometimes it takes 3 days for the carrier to get the text to me (don’t ask - suffice to say anyone who needs to send something to me in writing is told to use email or a paper letter due to both being quicker than text). If I had to be available all the time, I’d never get anything done because the social processing part of my brain would never get opportunity to recover from what it has to do to get things done in the first place, and on a bad day, anticipating the bleep would impede my ability to reply. Several of my friends are the same, with the result that my social circle largely still can “zonk out and do whatever” despite currently including several teenagers (number of revolutions on Earth never has been significant in how I generate friendships).

I watch very little TV, although that’s probably a medium preference since I also have more DVDs I haven’t watched than ones I have. Books are where it’s at! (Though I do appreciate ebooks as well, especially for coding).


Growing up in the 70s/80s I have a strange (and privileged) relationship with technology compared to many of my generation. When I was six my family purchased an Atari 2600, but soon after my parents worried that I was spending far too much time playing games so purchased a proper ‘educational’ computer, the Apple ][ (my school had recently bought two that were locked in a supply closet). I quickly learned to program Logo and Apple Basic on this, draw using a Koala pad (I quickly grew to prefer drawing digitally), and much to my teachers chagrin began handing in my assignments on 5¼ floppy discs, and/or dot-matrix print outs.

Eventually in high school I moved to a Commodore 64 mainly as it was what many of my friends had at the time. One irony is that my biggest source of cracked software was my grade 9 typing teacher whose class was still being taught on old 1950s manual typewriters. As I had my own phone line I also ‘acquired’ a modem early on (300 baud, whoohoo!) and spent a lot of time on various BBSs throughout my teens. I was also into phone phreaking for a bit, which saved me a ton of quarters, which I typically spent at the arcades.

In 1984 my father bought one of the first generation Macintoshes for his business (a design firm) which I managed to abscond with shortly thereafter. He bought me my own one when I went off to university, and have used a Macintosh ever since—being primarily on a laptop since 1995. It shipped with something called HyperCard which I dabbled with and somehow managed to find work using to help pay for uni (and buy a GameBoy which is still my favourite console).

As for mobile phones, I gave up on landlines at university in the early 90s (to save money), opting to use a pager and whatever phone was handy (although I did really covet my friends’ Apple Newton). I didn’t really use a mobile phone until around 2002 when I was living in Thailand and it was really the only choice available. Ironically, I was taught how to use one by a sweet 70+ year old woman who sold me both the GSM phone and my first SIM card and was utterly bemused that I had no idea what to do with either. It was then I began to understand that your relationship with technology isn’t determined by when or where you were born, but rather by the ways in which you understand it can make your life better.

From 2002 to 2006 I worked from cities all over the world using only my laptop, memory cards/thumb drives/usb-sticks, mobile phone, and various internet services via cafés and wifi hotspots.

Today I prefer txt over email, never use voice if I can help it, and my iPad and iPhone have become more important to me than my MacBook. I got rid of my CDs in 2002 (ripping them to my iPod) and moved to Spotify in 2008, and have only used streaming services (and torrents) exclusively since 2009. As for books, unless they are graphically rich I typically opt for the ebook, and usually try to borrow from services such as Libby, Hoopla, etc. Gaming today for me is either on my phone or iPad, or occasionally a rarely used Switch. I’m intrigued by the cute, retro Panic Playdate console, but fear I wouldn’t actually use it - as I’ve come to prefer using touch interfaces.

As I mentioned before, I don’t think age is anywhere near as important as exposure to, and understanding of how any technology can improve you and your family’s life.


I’m in my late forties, and I’m the guy who’s interested only in parser IF, so you might guess I do a lot of things in older ways.

We got our first home computer, a TI-99/4A, in 1983. My dad taught me to program in BASIC, and my mom sent me to a summer class at the high school to learn how to type–we used electric typewriters. My typing speed has been about 90-100 ever since. We got Pirate Adventure by Scott Adams, and I was absolutely hooked.

In 1985 we got a PC clone, which came with MS-DOS 2.11. That same year I saw a mouse on TV for the first time, but I ignored them for the next 10-15 years. I played Zork III on my friend’s Commodore 64, and discovered how good text adventures could be. From friends I acquired copies of Zork II, Planetfall, Wishbringer, and later Beyond Zork. I learned to program in assembly language, and I became everybody’s PC tech support kid.

In 1988 I saved up and bought a 1200 bps modem, which let me connect to a lot of local bulletin board systems. There was one BBS that let you play Colossal Cave Adventure, Zork I, and Hitchhiker’s Guide.

My first exposure to the Internet was in 1992, when my AP Computer Science class went to a programming contest at the university. Back then the language of choice was Pascal. We were on workstations using some form of Unix, and we had to email our programs to the contest judges–who were in the same room as all of us.

In 1995 my family got our first Windows PC. I continued running all my DOS software from the command line.

In 1996 I bought Classic Text Adventure Masterpieces of Infocom. The manuals were in PDF format, and this was the first time I ever used a PDF reader.

I started using a Web browser in 1999. I was mostly looking up math information and downloading old software.

I had used Usenet a little bit in college, but in 2003 I discovered that Google Groups had a news feed. I started lurking on r*if. I made my first post to rgif in February 2004, announcing my discovery of hundreds more Infocom bugs. In 2004 I judged IFComp for the first time, playing many of the games on my wife’s Diamond Mako PDA while waiting for her through many tests during a difficult pregnancy.

In 2006 we got a DSL Internet connection. No one who doesn’t remember dial-up can possibly understand what a game-changer this was. I started using resources like Wikipedia and YouTube, and changed operating systems as well. I started dual-booting Kubuntu, but by early 2007 Windows was completely gone from my computer.

In 2011 I got an ebook reader. I love the advantages digital books have over paper ones. Within a couple of years I sold and donated the vast majority of what had been a large personal library. I probably have fewer than a dozen bookcases left.

In 2013 I got my first cell phone. I had to be dragged kicking and screaming. From 2013 to 2019 I went through three different phones, but all of them had physical keyboards. Touchscreens are just terrible for actually using a computer! I didn’t get rid of my landline until last year. I do enjoy texting, but it’s definitely an asynchronous medium. I don’t expect an immediate response, and no one better expect that of me. My kids laugh at me for using standard spelling, caps, and punctuation. I write “OK.” rather than “ok”. Because these days I’m using a touchscreen, I guess I “text like a dad” too.

Around 2015 technology changed my life in a more fundamental way than I could have dreamed. I have had insomnia for as long as I can remember. Most nights of my life I have gotten fewer than three hours of sleep. Then I discovered podcasts. At first I just listened to them while going on walks or washing the dishes, then I realized it would be a good thing to do while lying in bed awake. To my amazement, podcasts will put me to sleep! Sometimes I’m scared that the effect will wear off, but so far so good. My sleepless nights are probably under 10% now. It’s a whole new life.

My web browser has a large, hierarchically organized collection of bookmarks I have been curating since 1999. I understand many people nowadays just leave tabs open that they might someday want to revisit, but that’s not me.

I’m super strict about online tracking and ads. I allow only sites on a short list to set cookies in my browser. I run very very little software that is not open source. I don’t use a Google account, and the cell phone I’m using now runs LineageOS for microG, a mostly open source Android variant without any Google apps. I answer my phone when it rings, because it’s virtually always a legitimate call. Just about the only notifications my phone gives me are text messages. I remember running Spybot - Search & Destroy on Windows to make sure nothing running on my computer was scanning my data or serving ads. That was considered malware behavior in the early 2000s, and now most people seem to accept it as normal behavior for the apps they use daily. My kids make fun of me for things like using an open source Facebook client and not allowing ads to play on Amazon Prime Video, but this is the hill I will die on.

So my technology use is sort of mixed. I’m not exactly a Luddite. I have totally adjusted to the ability to look up information on anything. I’m constantly on Wikipedia, and following links from it to the real sources. I’ll go to YouTube to see how to do some repair or maintenance project. I realize how remarkable this is. Over the weekend I came across a list I had written of songs I liked on the radio about 1994-5. I had gotten many titles and band names wrong, but it was a matter of only a few minutes to find all of them online.

On the other hand, I suppose I don’t do anything the way the younger generations do.


It’s always been hard for me to wrap my head around new technology. I had “be grateful for what’s there” beaten into my head pretty heavily. And it got in the way of using what was there.

I think I see a lot of technology and the non-cutting-edge stuff has immediate uses. So I’m quite happy with that, and often I don’t look for anything more, and I’m shocked when it’s there. But then I think of things and realize, yes, there’s a demand for a simpler interface, or for more power, and why can’t I take advantage of it?

It took me a lot of practice just Googling “Can I do X with a cell phone” or “Is there a shortcut for Y,” and when I do, it’s rewarding. I’d love to accept technology faster, but sometimes even with small stuff I sit around and say, it’s so cool things work the way they do!

I’m still a bit blown away with all that’s there and all that makes things simple for us. But I’ve learned to navigate it and realize that people who seem to be way ahead of me are, actually, taking advantage of technology that’s there. So I try to pick up on a few new things per day. I took way too long, for instance, to use StackOverflow to regularly look up answers to questions I had. I made the excuse “this is too trivial” or “this is too far advanced” or whatever. But then when I see a question and it has 100 upvotes and 100k views, I don’t feel alone at all, and I realize my questions aren’t stupid.

I’m amazed at how Google searching for the wrong stuff can turn up what you really wanted. For instance, I remember a song that went “Hey, we’re going to eat pizza!” or so I thought. In 2000 I had no hope of googling it, but it popped back into my consciousness and searching for the phrase brought up the Venga Boys’ “Going to Ibiza,” which was it.

It’s almost scary how right Google or YouTube can be with their algorithms. I forget if I posted this elsewhere, but often Youtube’s suggestions remind me of a song that slipped through my consciousness. One had a chorus like Buster Poindexter’s Hot Hot Hot but wasn’t quite. There were three words in a row–Right Right Right? But after doing lyrics dives on other 70s hits, Patrick Hernandez’s Born to Be Alive popped up, and it was indeed the one.

On the bad side, it creeped me out when I wrote some writing notes in Google Keep about the Muppets, and next time I logged into Facebook, up popped Muppets merchandise I might like. It reminds me of the scene in Groundhog Day where Andie Macdowell repeatedly slaps Bill Murray for somehow knowing her too well.


I’ve found the ad “targeted ads” so far off what I want that I end up turning them off everywhere I can because the default mode, however misaimed, is invariably more accurate. Like that year the internet assumed my company needed a special variety of administration despite me not having a company at the time, but simply having read about that type of administration twice in relation to one of my hobbies…

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My thoughts on the leaps in communications technology since the 90s are easily summarized:

  • I love the world of possibilities they have opened up.
  • I absolutely hate that they become a necessity, nay, an obligation about four and a half minutes after they’re available.

I was watching Stranger Things on Netflix with the kids yesterday and two things they said really stood out.

First, my youngest again asked “didn’t you have Internet“? I mean, we HAVE talked about this, but it’s like they just can’t imagine it. Not having a mobile phone is much more tangible, that they can imagine, but a world where things are not connected - and there IS nothing to connect to - is just really hard for them to imagine.

The other thing took me my surprise: “It’s so weird that there were airplanes“.

Say what?

“Yeah, like, you didn’t have mobile phones, but you had airplanes.“

Huh. Yeah, I guess we did.


And fifty years ago, we had lunar rockets and people walking on the moon. Using computers nowhere even near the power of a run-of-the-mill phone.

Big SF was replaced by miniaturisation.


Since I first saw this thread over a week ago I can’t stop thinking about how I hold my phone like an old person, and watching how young people hold their phones.

I have had a smartphone almost for as long as they existed, or at least since 2009 with one of the first Android phones (second one on the market, I think). But before that I had a Palm PDA (well, three different ones) starting in 2000. For young readers, a PDA was like a smartphone except it wasn’t a phone. So I have had a smart device with a touchscreen in my pocket for 22 years. And I still can’t use them as well as some kids that were not even born 22 years ago. PalmOS had a pretty good version of Frotz btw that was better for playing Infocom games than any of the interpreters I have tried for Android. Part of it might be that the Palm had a stylus so controls could be smaller and more useful than controls on a screen that you can only operate with a finger.

Also was a quite early user of computer mice, at least for a PC user. We had one around 1985. It was pretty useless as not much software for MSDOS supported a mouse anyway. But even with almost 40 years experience using computer mice I still hate them. In particular I hate drag’n’drop. I do not know why that is considered good design now. I was happy a while ago finding some old design guideline (ca 1989) saying “don’t ever do that”. I can drag things, but I tend to drop them all over the screen. And it is only worse on touchscreens btw. IIRC the PalmOS design guidelines also recommended to never do drag’n’drop, but in smartphone apps today things have to be dragged around all the time, and I keep dropping things in the wrong places. It also means obscuring half of the phone screen with my fat fingers.

Sticking to keyboards for the most parts. They do what I want them to do. I use command-lines and emacs. When Microsoft tried to make everyone “upgrade” from MSDOS to Windows 95 I switched to Linux. I still use Linux. I use a windowmanager that is fully keyboard controlled and rarely touch the mouse other than to navigate web pages or sometimes to do some drawing or other activities where using a mouse actually makes sense.

And while my CDs are in boxes, I still have (almost) all songs ripped to FLAC files. Overall I still put effort into keeping files. Locally, on my own disk, with backups. A bit of a data hoarder. I started saving files on floppies around 1986, and I have tried to not lose anything since then, copying everything to more modern media over the years. Especially being on the internet since 1995, I quickly realized that interesting/fun/useful things on the internet tend to disappear, so I save things and then I try to never delete them. If I find an interesting blog/site/forum with dozens of hundreds or thousands of pages that I have no time to read right now I use some script to save the entire thing for later. It will probably be gone in a few years when I remember that I want to read it.


We never really moved from vinyl. My husband has never lived without a record player. And now that vinyl is back big time, we’re like “Nyah nyah” to all the people over the years who rolled their eyes at our record collection and turntable. Plus, we inherited a huge vinyl collection from my husband’s father, so all y’all will just have to live with your all-consuming jealousy over our extensive collection of Harry Belafonte, Joni Mitchell, and original Broadway recordings. The biggest score from that inheritance was an original record of “Free to Be You and Me.” Eat your heart out, techies.


To be fair, CD’s are also now vintage and also superior to most streamed digital formats as they are not lossy. Given the growth in available bandwidth that position won’t last of course. A moment to remember the amazing engineers at Philips & Sony.


In answer to the OP:

I felt technology was going down a bad road with Facebook domination, not least because of their abusive strategy to create a “closed web” where users are effectively trapped and their every action tracked, so a few years ago I banned myself from using FB or Instagram. As a bonus, I am happier as a result; I rarely find myself virtue signalling anymore, nor arguing with strangers.

More recently I stopped visiting LinkedIn. It was entirely unnecessary for my work. It suffers with similar nauseating problems to Facebook.

I allow myself to use WhatsApp but only in exceptional circumstances, eg talking to an elderly uncle. Signal is its replacement.

I learnt that turning off Notifications is a source of great freedom. Resist having your attention being dictated by a big corporation!