Monday, November 12, 2007

Why Emm?

Having gone to school at the Un1versity of Ill1nois at Urb@na-Ch@mpaign where 'telnet' was born at their National Centre of Supercomputing Application (NCSA), I am no stranger to chatting on-line.
I remember when chatting online was not done on a graphical browser but on VAX and UNIX machines where everything comes out line by line on your green and black screen (or black and cream if you're using a mac). There were no animated smilies or sound bytes. I remember when there were only 17 people online and most of them were from netherlands. I remember how excited I was to ping 'mto5764' (read: Taufik, who was then my boyfriend studying in Tulsa, Oklahoma) and find out he was online and to be able to talk to him without having to pay a cent in phone bills.
To use a computer, I had to walk to the NCSA building, get into their lab in the basement, sign up and choose among rows and rows of available screens with keyboards that are connected to a server (it didnt have it's own CPU). Even if you had a computer at home (for word processing purposes), back then you dont even have the means, nor the infrastructure to dial-up and log in into the server.
In less than a year, the number of users on-line grew and suddenly there were irc channels, even 2 dedicated to Malaysians, mostly filled by malaysian students studying all over the united states. Still there were no graphical interface. You had to type in a command to see who's online, or ping to see if your friend is.
Back then there was no ambiguity. If you were online, it means you are there and available to communicate.

With the advent of chat softwares with graphical user interface, with a click of a button, you're not only logged in, but you'll be able to see who else is logged in and there's a status, to tell you if your friend is available or not. There are bells and whistles, nudges and honks for you to use, not to mention the smilies.
With a computer in nearly every household and internet connection easily and readily available, almost everyone is online, and can be online all. the. time.
With all these, I get a little confused though. Like, when your friend is online and the status is not shown as 'Busy' or 'Idle', does it really mean she is available to chat? I don't know. Maybe she's busy reading blogs. Maybe she's online but doesnt feel like talking. Maybe she's working on an assignment. Maybe she's getting ready to go to a 'kelas karipap'. (tee hee). Maybe she's available to talk, but only to specific persons and not to you. Maybe she's exchanging romantic french phrases with her new boyfriend. *shrug*. Who knows, really?
I could always venture to say "hello" or "assalamu-alaikum", but usually I would hesitate, for fear that I might be disturbing, or worse, intruding.
I always feel bad when I try to get a conversation started and there are no response. I mean, I wouldn't know what happened.. did their internet connection get cut off? Did their boss pop in unannounced? Did they have to leave suddenly? Was I disturbing them? Am I not a good conversationalist? Or is my internet connection all wonkers?
Somehow even with more visibility, I find it all to be more and more ambiguous.

I am really not complaining. I'm just stating my personal observation.
Perhaps I will find out that I'm not the only one who feels this way.
Perhaps if you see me on-line and I dont say hi, you'd understand why.
Perhaps if I do say hi to you, you'd take the time to say hi back.
Perhaps you'd also update your status so that I know when not to say hi to you.
Gosh, it's starting to sound like I *AM* complaining.
tee hee.


  1. ah... the good old days of telnet... life was much simpler then, people a lot nicer too ;)hehehhe...

    then there was IRC,kalau buat whois KB kat undernet masa tu basically there's only 2 person login-in from KB, the love of my life or his good friend :) Penang pun berapa kerat jer... and you know everyone, and you can even use your real name and nothing bad will happen!

    I know we talk about the convenience of things with the GUI, video-chatting and stuffs but i don't think i'd be able to have my net-romance if things back then are like they are these days. it's much too complicated. and people are not as honest anymore. so it's not just the technology that has changed the whole thing, but human behaviorial-evolution too. It's the price we have to pay, and thank god i'm pass that phase!

  2. my YM is always on invisible but then I hardly log in pun.. :p

  3. You're right Athene, I think people were alot more polite back then when there were just a small group of us. I remember there was a time when the group got so big, that some of the ladies were getting these dirty private messages from a really naughty boy. Jenuh suruh admin ban the guy.

    bdp, you sebok or cuti memanjang.. understandable :)

  4. elisa, would you believe it that I know your brother from irc days @ #warung! boy, he's come a very long way. good for him.

    well these days most people on chats are perverts or very young kids pretending to be a pervert pretending nice guys... so nak buat macam mana?

    bila lagi you are coming back to m'sia? if you want, i could get you GUiT via my cousin in Jeddah.

  5. Anonymous10:59 AM

    when i'm on ym, usually I'd go invisible if I don't wanna be disturbed. When am online, unless it's idle, it means am ready to chat with anyone even if it's busy mode there and that's cause I love the busy mode icon hahahahaahahaha.

    but like you, i'd feel guilty ah to buzz anyone thats on buzz mode or idle. just the way you say it :)


  6. What? Birthplace of Telnet takde dial-in?

    I was in Iowa State University 1991-1994 and we had dial-in into the VAX servers since 1991, or even way before that! Using ultrafast 2400 baud per minute modems ha ha! Bila balik Malaysia in 1995 I brought back a 14400 modem itu dah kira laju yang amat!

    Discovered IRC in 1992, masa tu tak stable lagi IRC nya, and seronok buat core dumping and tengok users from other universities disconnected one by one heh heh.

    Also I played starship games using UNIX/Ultrix DECstations, fighting students from other universities!

  7. nonah - eh do i have your id or not ya?
    tee hee

    Hans - its not that we it doesnt have dial-up, it's that not many people (read: student sengkek like me who selalu telefon boyfriend sebab tak puas cakap on-line) can afford a PC nor a modem. :) When I finally roomed with someone who owned a PC and modem, I ahd too many roomates that it made me feel guilty to hog the phone line, so I still had to walk to the computer lab to chat.