February 1, 2011

On “The Today Show” in 1994: What is the Internet?

Posted by Evelyn Mervine

Here is a video that has, appropriately, been spidering around the internet recently. This is a clip of “The Today Show” in 1994 where Katie Couric and her co-hosts are discussing a new internet address for the show, but they don’t know how to pronounce the @ symbol. Furthermore, they don’t really know what the internet is!

Video taken from YouTube.

I find it amazing how far the internet has come since 1994. These days, everyone is constantly updating their blogs, twittering (or tweeting, I guess– I must admit I haven’t got the hang of that one yet), facebooking, and so on. No one has phone books anymore; people just look up everything on omniscient google. The internet even plays a role in politics– the Egyptian government has recently shut the internet down in an attempt to slow the revolution there.

Science definitely seems to require the internet these days. There are so many online resources– databases, references, data reduction programs, map programs such as Google Earth, and so much more.  Personally, I can’t imagine writing a geology paper without having the MIT library at my electronic disposal. I rarely make physical trips to the library anymore. When I do actually have to make a trip to the library to– gasp– copy an old journal article, I do so begrudgingly.

I barely remember a time without the internet. In 1994 I was ten years old and already a regular internet user. A computer guru, my dad started using the internet at home in 1992 or 1993. At first we just had very slow text-based internet. If there were any pictures, my dad turned them off. I would bring up simple text versions of websites and devour the information. I remember I used to look up information about foreign countries I found interesting, and I would plan imaginary trips. By the time I started high school in 1998, I used the internet all the time.

These days, we all use the internet constantly. We even carry it around with us (well, not me… but that’s because I’m a poor grad student with a Jurassic cell phone) everywhere we go, constantly updating our statuses on various sites and googleing information as needed with our iPhones and Androids and Black(Crack)berries.

It’s incredible how far the internet has come in seventeen years, isn’t it? Something Katie Couric couldn’t define in 1994 is now an integral part of most people’s daily lives, at least in first world countries.

Although, I do enjoy my occasional internet escapes. The longest I’ve gone without the internet (well, since 1992 or 1993) is about three weeks– during geology fieldwork or personal camping trips. Soon enough, I imagine even fieldwork won’t take me away from the internet. When I was in the (somewhat) remote Oman desert last year, all the locals had cell phones. I’ve bet they’ve upgraded to a 4G network by now.