Adventures in Digital History

The Rise of Social Media and Computer Evolution

Going into Week 9, all I can say is that I can’t believe the semester is already halfway over! If doesn’t feel like it’s been that long, yet time is flying by faster than I can keep track of!

This week we are going to be focusing on a wide variety of topics, including networks, the internet, personal computers and the rise of social media. In conjunction with this, this week’s project has us engaging in social media aspects by having us generate Twitter tweets from someone’s perspective as if they are engaging in social media while witnessing a historical event. My project can be found on the page Live Tweeting Historical Events, linked here or under the History of the Information Age sub-column in the History tab.

For this week we were given some short videos and a few readings to look over concerning these topics. I personally found the Evolution of the Personal Computer video to be both very informative and nostalgic. I’m only twenty-one, but I’m familiar with a lot of “old-school” technology that many people my age have never heard of. For one, I was able to recognize the first computer I remember my family owning as a kid in this video. It was an old Intel that ran the Windows 98 OS. I didn’t know what these things were back then, but the one thing I do have a vivid memory of is the Windows 98 startup screen. It was the only computer we had in the house until around 2014. It still remember using dial-up internet, the horrible sound associated with it, and the fact you couldn’t use the internet and the telephone at the same time. Man, times sure have changed.

A very old Windows `98 INTEL computer. | Securitron Linux blog.
An old Intel computer running the Windows 98 OS. Image from Securitron Linux.

Ironically, this is not the only class I’m taking this semester where we’re talking about the history of the internet. In Applied Digital Studies (DGST 395) with Dr. Whalen, we recently started discussing the Internet of Things and how the internet has evolved over time. I’ve really enjoyed looking at old computer programs such as LambdaMOO¬†and using the The Wayback Machine to look at what websites looked like a long time ago. I found it interesting how the two classes are studying topic that go together, which makes learning in both of them incredibly interesting.

One thing that we are focusing on in this class though is the rise of social media. Chris Stabile and Jeff Ershler makes a lot of interesting points in their book Constructivism Reconsidered in the Age of Social Media. A popular discussion in some of my previous classes revolved around the development of social media and the effect it has on globalization and the transfer of cultural knowledge and information. The use of social media has changed how we communicate with one another. Instead of talking over the phone of meeting in person, people text, instant-message, and devlier of variety of electronic communications with each other in a medium that is open for others to see. This has led to the development of art, videos, memes, and so much more. In many ways, the internet has developed a culture of its own, and it’s one we all participate in while using the internet in our own unique ways. As someone who doesn’t use social media that much, it’s something similar to culture shock when logging onto a social media platform for the first time. In the past few years I have tried to give each platform at least a chance. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Twitch, Snapchat, and TikTok are all examples of online communities and media centers where information is shared and passed on. Those are just some of this big ones! There’s a lot more out there, with more and more being created everyday! Out of all these platforms, the only ones I use are Twitter and YouTube, and occasionally Twitch. I don’t post of them that often, but I do consume the media being shared. I have a family member who is obsessed with Facebook to the point I’ve had to call them out on their usage. This is ironic, considering my generation is usually the ones obsessed with social media, and I’m the one calling out someone who is thirty years older than I am. It’s because of this that I’m really interested to hear what others think about social media and the internet. I’d like to know how much it has influenced them, and whether they consider it to be good or bad.

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