According to McCulloch’s groupings, I would be a ‘Full Internet Person’ as I first got properly online as a 15 year-old in 1996:
Full Internet People came of age with the beginning of the social internet in the late 1990s to early 2000s. They joined an internet that had already established many of its communicative norms, and they acquired them, not explicitly from a Jargon File or FAQ but implicitly, from their peers joining at the same time, via the same cultural alchemy that transmits which music is cool or which jeans are desirable. The internet is “full” for this cohort because they never questioned its social potential: How could they, when they began by using it to communicate more with people they already knew? It would be absurd to assert that the internet is asocial or that Internet People are somehow not real when a breakup that happened last night over IM is all anyone can talk about the next day at lunch.
As McCulloch comments, given how central the internet has been to my identity, it’s weird that it causes me so many problems in terms of parenting my own kids!
It is perhaps ironic that this Full Internet generation, the first to use the internet to baffle their parents collectively, is also the last to be baffled by their own children. While Fulls can draw on their own teen years to understand chat apps in the frame of instant messaging, or Tumblr in the frame of GeoCities, they didn’t have a digital childhood. They’re the first to reckon with unfamiliar questions like how much iPad time is too much for a toddler, what to do when a child stumbles across a disturbing parody version of a children’s cartoon, and whether to post photos and anecdotes of a child on social media when faraway relatives may enjoy them but the child may grow up to find them embarrassing.
McCulloch’s discussion nicely builds on some of the themes I explored in my thesis, and particularly when she talks about skills:
“[C]omputer skills” have become as meaningless a category as “electricity skills.” Like children of the offline kind of immigrants, second-generation internet kids do grow up fluent in the communication styles of their peers, but no generation anywhere has ever mastered the skills of adulthood without mentorship. The Post Internet challenge is to parse out which tech skills are acquired incidentally while socializing and which skills were incidental a decade or two ago but now aren’t, and so need to be taught.
I thought this was particularly insightful:
But in a discussion of generations and cohorts, here’s the sharpest line dividing internet writers: Who is the imaginary authority in your head when you choose how to punctuate a text message? Is it the prescriptive norm of an offline authority, like your former English teacher or a dictionary? Or is it the collective wisdom of your online peers, the anticipation of their emotional reaction to your typographical tone of voice? The difference between how people communicate in the internet era boils down to a fundamental question of attitude: Is your informal writing oriented towards the set of norms belonging to the online world or the offline one?
A highly recommended read for anyone interested in how the internet is changing society, both linguistically and culturally.
I’m someone who uses the web browser on my e-reader. I always have done, from the earliest Amazon Kindle I had, through to the bq Cervantes 4 I use these days. To scratch my own itch, I’ve created a new site: eink.link
As you’d expect, web browsers on e-readers aren’t very capable. As websites get ever more bloated and complex, they render ever more poorly on these kinds of devices.
Simple, text-based websites work well, though. So I thought I’d begin to collect these and make them available for anyone to use. I’m not doing anything complicated: just using GitHub Pages to serve up a basic website that’s styled Simple.css.
Right now, I’ve added one or more links in the following categories:
It’s pretty awesome that I can download EPUB-formatted books directly from my e-reader’s web browser directly to the device!
In case you’re interested, I did do some very basic research with people who self-reported as users of e-readers. The following polls on Mastodon and Twitter together received 101 votes:
Some may see the above as discouraging, but I disagree: that’s 10-15% of e-reader uses in my sample who are already using an e-reader web browser, and 30-40% who know how to access it.
If this were a ‘product’ rather than a side project, I’d say that there’s a definite niche there to be served. For example, we know that looking at backlit smartphone and tablet screens can cause insomnia. E-ink screens are much better in that regard, plus the simplicity of the websites that work on e-readers are potentially more calming.
For the foreseeable, though, this is just something that’s useful for me and hopefully some other people. The good news is that it works well on every type of web browser. I’m planning to implement a dark mode toggle soon, as well as add a bunch more websites — feel free to suggest some!
There’s an interview with Derek Sivers somewhere in which he’s asked about the best way to get started with minimalism. His interviewer finds his response unexpected: go out and buy loads of stuff, he suggests, and feel the need to declutter. That’s the heart of minimalism.
I feel the same about learning. Somehow, I managed to spend 28 years of my life in formal education, from entering school as a four year-old, to graduating from an Ed.D. at the age of 32. I learned a lot, but I wouldn’t say that most of it suited the way I learn best.
No, I’m not talking about vacuous ‘learning styles’, I’m talking about the assumption that everything can be broken down into a sequence that should be learned by people in the same order. I just think, for me at least, learning doesn’t work like that.
Instead, I seem to learn best through frustration. So long as I’m motivated enough to care, when I find something annoying or confusing, something kicks in to make me want to figure it out. Thank goodness for the internet!
Sometimes there’s a perfect YouTube video to watch or article to read, but more often than not it’s a random post on a forum somewhere, or a Reddit comment, or social media post in the middle of a thread.
Is this ‘optimal’? Does it ‘scale’? Probably not. But, for me, people who package things up in ways that are too step-by-step are being a bit disingenuous. After all, I bet they didn’t learn this stuff that way themselves.