My 8 Most Memorable Moments In Front Of A Computer

So much has changed in the last decade or so that it’s good to look back at the turning points in hopes of being at the cusp of the next one.

women on laptop

I’d be interested to hear what you think of my 8 moments. Any of them the same as yours? What are some your most memorable moments?

1992: Discovering Photoshop

I was working for a newspaper in London and I remember someone showing me this photo-editing software I’d heard so much about. I remember getting the eraser tool and rubbing out a house on a black-and-white photo. I was hooked.

Many hours and many sore backs later, I still use it everyday.

netscape

1995-6: Discovering the Internet

I’ve no idea when Sir Tim Berners-Lee actually invented it but the internet started for people like me in the mid-nineties. We learned about it through the medium of newspapers. How quaint!

There then followed hours of waiting for HTML pages to download through a dialup modem.

1997: Discovering how it would change the world

So, you’ve got access to the world’s knowledge at the touch of a button. What do you do with it? Er, um.

I’ve got to explain a bit here. I’m a guitarist. I like to play other people’s songs. My pre-internet options for learning a song were:

  • sit inches in front the TV screen desperately trying to see the chords my heroes were playing
  • spend ages with a tape or a record and laboriously try to work out how to play a song by stop-starting and trial and error. I haven’t got perfect pitch so, believe me, this would take ages.
  • give up and buy the very expensive sheet music.

Then one day, a year after I’d bought my dial-up modem, I thought, hey I wonder if I could find out chords to all those impossible to learn songs online? Yes, I could. Hours and hours of annoying the neighbors with my terrible renditions of Life On Mars and Try A Little Tenderness ensued.

But I was actually learning a very different tune – how the internet would change everything I’d ever known before. Whole industries would die, eons of time would be saved, inspiration was available for free. The world would never be the same again.

forums

2001: Discovering user generated content

As the new millennia came, the internet matured. On September 11th, 2001 I learned of the events by watching TV, But I found myself gravitating towards my computer to find out what people were saying about them.

2005: Discovering WordPress

In 2005, I’d just about managed to set up a 5-page static HTML site when a friend of mine casually recommended that I install this stupid blogging software with an even stupider name. I did it just to keep him quiet.

It didn’t impress me much at first – after finally setting it up I was confronted with this page saying “Hello World!”, I then clicked on “Hello World!” and it took me to another, very similar page with another “Hello World!”

I didn’t much like the idea of editing PHP files to change the design. But, when I saw “header.php”, “footer.php”, etc., in the theme and something clicked. And, then I noticed a fledging blog was attracting way more visitors than my 5-page static HTML site. I was hooked. Still am.

matt mullenweg email

2008: Discovering a new breed of rockstar

By 2008, I’d been blogging for a few years and had already set up my company. I was enamoured of the WordPress story. People like Matt Mullenweg, Tim Ferriss and Seth Godin were my new heroes.

But my new heroes aren’t the same as the music icons of the last century. They may be into free love and making the world a better place but they also read all their emails and, in most cases, answer them too. I wrote the above flippant remark to Matt Mullenweg thinking he’d have a secretary that screened his mail – I was shocked when he replied.

iphone

2008-11: Discovering mobile internet

OK. Time to cheat. This isn’t a moment and it’s not in front of a computer. But here are the “wow” instances:

  • Getting my first wireless router and working on the laptop in the garden
  • Replying to an email with a smartphone
  • Someone showing me Google Maps on the iPhone (you can’t do that now but you know what I mean :) )
  • The ability to listen and read from the world’s best business mentors when and where I feel like it
  • Cloud life – running my business from a beach cafe in Brazil

google

2013: Discovering social will be more important than search

I’d like to conclude my 8 earth-shattering moments with the one that will change the world the most – the future of search.

One of my most memorable moments in front of a computer certainly could have been “discovering Google”. Typing a question into a search engine and getting a correct answer – or millions of answers – was certainly amazing.

But my 8th most memorable moment came the other day when I realised you don’t need Google. More of my business is actually coming from Facebook, Twitter and other networks than organic search nowadays. That’s huge.

So, if the last few years in front of a computer (OK, let’s say “device”) has been a rollercoaster ride, then we’re going to be blown away in the next few years. Search and “googling” will be unrecognisable in a few years time.

What do you think?

What do you think of my 8 moments? Do you have similar ones? I’d love to hear about yours.

Comments

  1. says

    Fascinating stuff – love the WordPress email. Funny how you say in 1995/96 you discovered the internet. It was about this time that I left a design company I was working at to move to a more senior position at another. As a leaving present the old company bought me a modem. I remember getting home to my other half and saying to him – what on earth would I want this for :) – how things change.

    • says

      Yes, Tara, and four years ago on the internet feel like a lifetime ago! And, yes, you wouldn’t recognise the internet from 1995/6. It was very difficult to find anything useful. :)

  2. says

    Good post. Amazing really the effect that WordPress has had on the website design and content management industries. Still feels that it’s something that’s being used for something other than its prime purpose. But it’s still better than anything else out there imho.

    • says

      Hey Phil. Yes, WordPress has experienced phenomenal growth and is a testament to the open source community that created it. It’s gone from blogging software to CMS to, now, application platform without splitting up and forking off. Quite amazing! Will it still be one product in the future? We’ll have to see.

  3. Oksana Frewer says

    Nice, I’m guessing that your guitar passion brought you where you are now! I’ve remembered only a few moments: the one was years back in 1989 , I was sitting in front of a comp in an after school computer class, looking on the black monitor with white code on it and felt alone and upset, thinking: “I am a girl…what I’m doing over here” trying to put some code together. And the second moment was in another class room, in 2006, when I saw in a browser window my first site with only few words: IT IS MY FIRST SITE. It was really AWESOME!!!! And in 2006 I bought my first Apple Imac, so it is the third one. Maybe now the fourth moment that I would remember later, but I am not sure yet! Yep, Rob, the world will never be the same again, that’s a fact. It nice to live in such a changeable time and be flexible like responsive webdesign :)

    • says

      Very similar to me you thought (or, more accurately, were made to think) that computers and programming were somehow “beyond our abilities” a long time ago. I regret the fact that I thought this at that time because I should have been much more positive about my potential. Oh well, never mind. At least now we know that we can do it!

      And, like me, you had the same buzz the first time you put something up on the internet. It’s amazing, isn’t it? Instant publishing and feedback. Amazing!

      Flexible like responsive design, haha! :)

  4. says

    1987: I discovered the MacPlus, PageMaker 1.0 and a 300dpi LaserWriter. I grappled with on-screen type peering through a tiny greyscale monitor and thought: “No way are you getting me up in one of these things ever again”. My employer told me that very soon one of these computers would be sitting on everyone’s desk. Ridiculous!

    1989: Discovered the Mac II which actually included a hard drive! This meant I didn’t need to load system each time I turned the machine on. PageMaker 3, Freehand 2 and my favourite fonts were already loaded and ready to go. I didn’t need to manually download them to printer using Font/DA Mover. Fantastic!

    1992: Developed my skills Moved from a small design company into a corporate environment. The IT guy there (Jack the Mac) described me as a ‘Power User’. Impressive!

    1994: Discovered Photoshop. Realised it was very powerful and could do a lot of stuff, but not on a Mac II CI running a 030 processor. Upgraded to a Quadra (040) with 1GB hard drive and 12MB of RAM. Now we’re talking!

    1996: Discovered the Internet and wondered what it was for. Used it to send email. Discovered TAB notation for the guitar. Still can’t read TAB — I prefer to play my 12-string by ear, as I always have.

    1999: Thought I’d better come to grips with this internet thing. Lots of websites are being designed by geeks with computer degrees — and it shows! The sites are semantically perfect but they all look the same. New business opportunity for freelance designer. Did a course in web design (passing convincingly)!

    2005: Adobe brought Macromedia. They stopped supporting Freehand MX, insisting that Mac Freehand users switch to the wonderful world of Illustrator. Boo! (I resisted for years).

    2009: Discovered the SilverStripe Content Management System. Now I can set up a templated ‘theme’ for my client’s website and they can add and edit pages as they wish. The CMS is much simpler and easier to integrate than any other CMS I’ve encountered. And for my clients, updating content and adding pages is as easy as using a word processor. Great!

    2012: Heard about ‘Responsive Design’. Still ‘responding’ to this one but learning more every day!

    • says

      Thank you, Mike, I think that’s probably one of the best comments I’ve had here!

      I’ve just realised why I’ve love the internet: you discover that there are people half way round the world that are nearly as crazy as you are!

      You certainly started with DTP (remember they used to call it Desktop Publishing?) before I did and you really were exposed to the early, early birthing pains of this industry of ours.

      Of course, our careers are quite closely matched. However, there are some quite stunning differences: Quadra (040) with 1GB hard drive and 12MB of RAM in 1994! Wow, it would be quite a number of years before I could sit behind a beast as powerful as that baby! But I remember the Quadras (and the Mac IIs!)

      Luckily for me (although this is a matter of opinion) I was always more comfortable with Illustrator and after 2007-8 I really stuck with WordPress as my CMS of choice. Although I remember using SilverStripe on one project – I think the Obama campaign used it early on.

      (WordPress now sorts out HTML5 and responsive design for me :) )

      Thanks for the timeline! :)

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