Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Cybernauts

Was reading a book a few weeks back - The Cybergypsies by Indra Sinha, which was a kind of autobiographical take on the early days of the internet, thats starting around the mid eighties. Its a tale of the early cybernauts, their addiction to the internet and how their real and virtual lives fought each other for attention and threatened to engulf each other.
It took me back to the turn of the century, my early days online, when the net of Indra Sinha was well on its way to becoming the worldwide web it is today. It reminded me of the a/c internet cafes, visits to which were not so frequent because of the steep costs, and the dimly lit computer labs in the university which had only the unreliable vsnl connection.The days of IRC and chats with unknown angels and merlins and superboys, the arcade games, the imaginary worlds created among friends across geographies, in a way, it was almost the kind of life the early cybernauts led.
And when you were asked what exactly you spent hours in front of a computer for, you really couldn't explain what made it so worthwhile. The days of usa.net and eudoramail and theglobe.com, names which have bitten cyberdust quite a whileback. I still have a friend from those days, almost a decade of only virtual friendship, well, almost, since she sent me flowers for my wedding :)
And then came the initial days of blogging, and friends made on rediffblogs, people whom I did not know really, but with whom i shared thoughts, and rants. And, that, i guess where virtuality started ending and reality started taking over. There were blog meets and the imaginary worlds created carefully gave way to the cafes of the real world.
It took a turn with orkut and co, where the networks were used to get in touch with people you already knew in your real life. And these days, on twitter, i meet a few who i used to know during the rediff days, but gone are the days of anonymity, for my linkedin profile would readily tell people who i was in the real world.
i miss those days, because there was only communication and a conversation among equals then. No virtual celebrities, no social media experts, no snobs, everything was virtual, your imagination and thoughts were the only thing that mattered, virtuality was a shell you could retreat to when the real world became too unbearable. Its different now, virtuality and reality are too enmeshed, and as with everything else in the world, behind every virtual interaction, there is a real intention. This must be Cybernauts 2.0

until next time, really virtual

9 comments:

Epiphany said...

Anonymity is bliss ? :)

P.S. - Technically I should be posting this comment as anonymous!

ReallyVirtual said...

I guess we (of the 30ish agegroup) all have that nostalgia attack every other month. You're getting old when you start writing those "back in my days..." posts :-)
BTW, I got to this post via my google watch on "reallyvirtual" - which was my IRC nick for a few years before I registered the domain name for my blog.

austere said...

Great post!

:) heh.

Which means I'm not really saying what I want to say.


There is always a choice re the blending or otherwise- always.

manuscrypts said...

epiphany: not necessarily, you have a persona, but it might be only be a virtual one

reallyvirtual: haha, the frequency is much higher :)

manuscrypts said...

austere: thats true :)

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