I’ve been online for over 20 years. Before Al Gore invented the internet, before most people knew it existed. As a full-time college student — and with a husband doing research toward a PhD in electrical engineering — we had access to some academia-centered technologies that hadn’t spread into the “real world.”
Initially, we had email. It was a magical system that almost instantly sent messages from one side of the world to the other. Without paying for a stamp or enormous long-distance fees. Since my dad was a math professor, we could “talk” to him anytime. Totally cool.
Then there was “Transporter.” This was a local bulletin board system that had a live chat feature. We could log on with a modem and debate about politics in ways most people wouldn’t debate face to face. I became GingerHead (due to my red hair) and was a force to be reckoned with.
Next came America Online (AOL). We were charter members of AOL. This was an innovative system that built topical communities for discussion and resource sharing. For a number of years I worked for AOL, first for “Family Computing” and later in the “Homeschooling Forum.” My jobs consisted of monitoring and editing message board, responding to queries, supervising live chats, etc. To this day, over 15 years later, I have never seen a chat protocol that worked as smoothly and consistently as AOL’s chat did. They later extended their model to include web site space for each member in a subdirectory. I built my first web site there in 1994.
As time went on, we expanded to having our own sites and our own servers. Currently we own over 100 domains and run a number of successful blogs and sites for various purposes.
Needless to say, in our lives having a reliable internet connection is critical. But even less technical people have come to depend on internet access.
My dad lives in an older home (well, built in 1968). He recently lost modem support to his old university email account. Fortunately, he’ll be moving in with us in a couple of months so we can upgrade his system. But not having a reliable high-speed alternative is troubling.
We also have relatives in the hinterlands of Wyoming who have struggled getting online access. In a world that is increasingly global online, having this barrier can be a real drag.
This morning I learned about a service that specializes in providing high speed internet access to rural and remote locations by satellite. Wild Blue satellite internet offers three different packages, depending on your needs and location. If you need internet access like we do — and have trouble getting access — check out Wild Blue to see if they can provide what you need.