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"I was fascinated by what it could do!" - Radhika Nair, homemaker, London
Radhika Nair began her career as a trainee sub-editor in the Express Computer office at Nariman Point, Mumbai in April '96.
Her experience started with working on what she calls "little black editors that had just an ugly black screen with a huge cursor going blip-blip…" There was one colour PC in the office that was used by the boss. Three months later, when they shifted office that computer was moved outside his cabin.
It had a register tied to it, so that whoever used it kept a record of the time it was used. One day her colleague explained to her that "it was a machine that could connect to others, anywhere on the planet". And that she too would have to learn to use it soon. She did.
Nair hasn't turned back since, and though admittedly not a geek yet, she cannot imagine surviving without the Internet.
Can you tell us about the early days?
The concepts were very confusing at first, and I had just begun to understand some of the jargon like LAN, WAN, and about some of the companies and what they were into. The Internet and the WWW were new terms that I was also supposed to learn to 'use'. I'd sit with my seniors while they told me the commands needed to operate it.
It wasn't Internet Explorer or Netscape, but a horribly confusing black screen-no-images-programme, called 'Shell'. For email I think the programme was called 'Pine' and we had to upload and download mail with commands like '-lz' and 'sz' in combination with some number... very confusing for a novice.
We used a dial-up line at that time. One of the office phones would forever be connected to the Net. Somehow I always managed to goof-up and pick up the phone absentmindedly, while a senior working on some serious story would suddenly look up from his desk and wonder what went wrong with the line.
Another colleague showed me that the Web was easier to surf with a browser like IE or Netscape. We had Netscape in the beginning and I remember it crashing very often, causing a lot of swearing in the office.
What were your first impressions?
I was fascinated by what it could do! I love technology and how it makes life easier and the world smaller for all of us. A friend got me a Yahoo! mail account and I remember asking him reluctantly if I had to pay for it. And that was the next surprise for me. Almost everything on the Net was free!
That was when I began to wonder about the implications of everyone having a free email account, like there had to be so much space somewhere for millions of people who sign up everyday.
What were some of your initial activities?
I know there's a machine that connects to other machines and it's some huge crazy network of some sort|
||I learn about its applications and slowly begin to use it|
||I get my email account; and my new TCP-IP-enabled Macintosh at home, so I'm surfing more now|
||I use Win pop-ups, a rudimentary form of chat for office networks. I learn about Yahoo! Messenger|
I'm a writer in Bangalore, I use the Web extensively. I also hear and learn about wireless technologies, advertising online, and call centers, and how almost every company is into it. I observe small shops and companies being sucked into the Web, and e-businesses growing at a crazy pace.|
||I've been part of the dotcom revolution. I've seen companies open and shut down fast. I'm not comfortable in the crazy IT-rush in Bangalore, I come back to Mumbai as the home-page editor for Zdnet India, a technology portal.
|| I move to UK and use the Net to keep in touch with friends. My journal also helps me land a job in for a multilingual magazine for children!
Like most people, I got onto email. However, there was no one I personally knew who had another email account. So my correspondence was all 'official' by default. It was only when some of my colleagues quit the company, and I too had joined another company (Chip, now Digit), that I actually began to use email to talk to them.
By then my father had got a Mac and it was Internet-enabled, just plug-and-play, and nothing like my initial 'alice-in-cyberland' experience.
What were you doing two or three years later? Did you discover anything new online?
Email was common and not-talked-about so much anymore. Win(dows) pop-ups were the in-thing at office then, and later I discovered Yahoo! Messenger.
However we were to chat only after office hours, so I never got around to doing it seriously. I did know about Internet Relay Chat though, and colleagues would tell me of new friends they made online. I found it fascinating, but never had the courage (or felt the necessity) to try it myself.
Later, I moved to Bangalore and was with itspace.com as a writer for a few months, so I had to use the Web all day. I also learnt more about Internet chat because my roomie was a chat moderator.
What are your primary activities today?
Well, I use the Web for almost everything ...read newspapers, find out what's happening in India, email friends, chat with my parents (who learnt to use messenger only two months ago; why, my granny still calls it a TV!), research for a journal entry, look for book and movie reviews and most importantly, recipes.
I'm not sure I'd be correct in saying that the Web has changed over the years. But I do know that its applications (for us) have changed. It's made life much simpler and everything's more accessible.
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