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Wednesday, February 04, 2009


World Wide ICQ Contacts - 1998-2001

After the hubbub over Blogroll Amnesty Day and blogging in general, I'm going to make a few personal observations concerning the "modern" cell-phone, laptop, Facebook, instant messaging, texting, blogger world we live in.

A technological forever ago - 15 summers or so in human years - there existed a number of networking mechanisms not related to the Internet Tubes. Dedicated geeks around the globe fashioned the software and infrastructure needed for packet mail exchanges, private Bulletin Board Systems, and server dispatched, text based chat programs. For the first time in history, ordinary people from around the globe could exchange viewpoints and ideas as easily as typing a letter. (Yes, Virginia, there was once a mechanical contrivance known as the typewriter.)

And it was good.

Slightly over a decade ago a program called ICQ emerged as a popular Internet based interactive chat program - there was no MS Messenger, Yahoo, or AOL Instant Messenger. No Google, Blogger, Facebook, YouTube, MySpace, AskJeeves, or Twitter. Britney Spears was chewing on table legs and George W. Bush was a cretinous post turtle governmenting in Texas. The majority of online communications were about education and personal connections, not profits and flatulent egos.

And this, too, was good.

ICQ possessed a search feature which allowed users to randomly contact others who enabled public visibility of their profiles - Find a New Friend. "Modern" US based messaging services are far behind in this regard; they are clumsy at best and tend to produce only North American contacts - if any. Yet via this "obsolete" mechanism within ICQ I regularly conversed with people from around the world - England, Australia, Russia, Ireland, Moldova, Mexico, Kurdistan, Finland, Israel, Sweden, India, Germany, Ukraine, and to a far lesser degree, the US. CD's full of the pictures and stories of hundreds of lives - audio clips, e-cards, pictures of gardens, houses, barely covered nubile bodies, children and pets. Collected tales of personal strife and joy, bad boyfriends, and governments run amok.

Blogging, however, tends to emphasize notoriety, volume of hits, snark, and even advertising or profit. Overwhelmed by political and religious agendas, sales hype and satirical mocking of those who don't fit the mold of each group's mass-think. The aforementioned average voices have been smothered in the din. There is no interaction, intimacy, conversation, or connection - yet flocks of flying monkeys continue to make the rounds of each watering hole in order to dump a bit of ego onto the pages, never bothering to return and enjoy the fruits of their effort. Seemingly endless streams of 28 character quips and jousts which further isolate and degrade the medium. Just as with cell-phones, the desire for human contact results in more isolation than ever.

What was once good is perhaps less so today.


Blogger Marie said...

Great points. But I have been one of the lucky ones who has made some wonderful warm and thought provoking connections through my blog.

The ones that you cite, with the circus like appearance and mind numbing content, won't sustain. Their creators will grow tired of them, their 'readers' will grow bored with them. And the good stuff, the real stuff, like yours, is what will remain.

Of course, I could be completely and totally wrong. lol But one can hope. :)

Wed Feb 04, 08:47:00 AM  
Blogger Dr. Know said...

Flattery will get you anywhere, Marie. ;-)
I pick a bit, and it is a totally different medium, but still can't help lamenting the loss of the old ICQ crowds. Just consider me a Luddite. Thanks for dropping by!

Wed Feb 04, 09:34:00 AM  
Blogger edifice rex said...

I agree with Marie. I've been blogging for about 3 years and have a group of 'regulars' that, I would like to think of as friends. I think there is quiet a bit of interaction and conversation and I have even met several fellow bloggers or just readers thereby making truly personal connections that otherwise might have not happened.
Of course, there are scads of blogs like you mention but I just tend to avoid those because they are so blaringly obvious and full of themselves.

Thu Feb 05, 06:49:00 PM  
Blogger Dr. Know said...

I could easily fit the latter description, ER, yet I live in a place where 2 + 2 = 7 - I've been conditioned to point out the self-evident. As for the voices I know from blogging, little is known about them personally nor have we ever met.

Probably doesn't help that most live 800+ miles away, are married with children, or that I'm a conditioned misanthropic curmudgeon. Southern politicos, GOP in particular, seem to have that effect. ;-)

Thu Feb 05, 08:03:00 PM  

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