I just had something of a deja vu experience: Calming down a child who has just woken up frightened from a nightmare. I – being a quasi-insomniac who just keeps odd hours – was awake anyways reading a book when I started to imagine I was hearing a voice. I ignored it.
“Why,” you ask, “would you ever ignore an imaginary voice?”
Occam’s razor: It is imaginary.
The voice persisted I finally got up, wandered across the hall and peeked into Ella’s room to discover a two-year old niece who was very much awake and upset. Jen came in, we calmed her down, and put her back into my sister’s bed. And that was that. I just thought it was an event worth mentioning. Reminisences and bizzarely fond memories of doing just this with Caira.
Okay, Ella waking up was an utterly mundane moment, but I’m in a mood to write, I’m in a place amenable to writing and I’ll be dammed if I do anything but write.
So hi. It’s 02:37 and I’m still wide-awake. Listening to Metallica’s Black Album for good measure. Via a thoroughly geeky MPD/Sonata connection. Blogging to a Tomboy note saved into my Dropbox for later input into Tumblr when I am back online – that’s something I can talk about now. When you transfer the bulk of your key information to the Internet, when you manage your personal organization via Internet tools, when every important interaction with another human being takes place of the Internet, you really feel the sting of not having on-demand access. When I stay at Jen’s house in the wild barrens of Loughrea (I’m babysitting, tomorrow) I miss out on talking to friends online, sinking hours into pointless pursuits, toying with new and sly ways of breaking down the divisions between my online and offline existences. My Netbook becomes so much inert plastic, metal and glass. At 02:50 I’m listening to Alexi Murdoch’s Time Without Consequences and I wonder at how much my computing experience changed over the course of the past decade. In 1999 and 2000, my computer was the entire experience in and of itself. It was a big, noisy Compaq box running Windows 98 and packing a bad-boy 10 gigabyte hard disk and 128 megabytes of RAM. It…well it wasn’t cutting edge, wasn’t high-end. It was a consumer-class, family-friendly personal computer. But it certainly held its own. Internet access was strictly 56k dialup.
I will spare you my fucked-up horror stories of the phone bills I paid after I discovered my first (and most fateful) MMOG, Asheron’s Call, in early 2000.
Communication was slow, fragmentary and imperfect. I was a member of a Wheel of Time forum or three, I arranged card trades on the Star Trek: CCG Decipher forum and I used tools with an imperfect understanding. Very few of our modern Internet services were in place: No Twitter, no Facebook, no Bittorrent. Webmail was a bit of a joke. I began with Hotmail (firstname.lastname@example.org), and moved on to Yahoo! (email@example.com) for no good reason that I can name today. Gmail was still four years away. I had a whopping 1mb of online storage and fuck-all functionality beyond New, Delete, Reply, Mark as Spam. I installed my first Linux distro – Suse from the DVD grifted off a magainze cover, because I simply did not have the bandwidth to download a whole multi-gigabyte ISO. I still vividly recall getting a 1mb Eircom DSL line installed and being able to download a new distro overnight. I also recall getting booted as a customer from an “unlimited” 56k dialup service because I treated it exactly as such. It was maybe an early incarnation of Digiweb?
2010? It’s 03:09 and I’m still listening to Alexi Murdoch. I’m trying to tote up just how much online disk space I have access to as maybe the best way to describe just how my Internet experience has changed… but I’m finding it hard to pin down a definite number. Basics:
- Dropbox: Currently 4.5 gigabyes and counting. About 3GB are still free. I have a second Dropbox account I share with 091 Labs. 2.2GB.
- Gmail (firstname.lastname@example.org): 2GB out of 7.5GB are in use.
- Digiweb (main account). I have a 15GB allocation on my main account. When I last looked mid-week, I still had 12GB left free, even when I sub-let this to two other people, one is my wife and the other is a Galway photographer. I occasionally mount this via SSHFS as a remote, secure swap space. I have a second account, originally purchased for my wife but never used. 10Gb. Set to expire next April.
- Google Apps. I have a single 7.5GB mail account currently in use (email@example.com), although if I wanted to abuse Google’s excellent and free service I could make up another 49 accounts with the same storage and mount them with GmailFS. Potentially ~350 GB.
- Wuala. I’m really still learning the quirks and nuances of this service, but I was gifted with a 15GB yearly subscription for sharing my space hard disk space. This space is dynamically expandable by creating an encrypted volume to share with other users – so I could hypothetically plug in my 1 terabyte external storage disk and correspondingly reap the rewards.
- Other online storage providers too?
So I could have at least one point three five terabytes on-demand of Internet storage space if I set up a desktop and rigged it correctly. That’s one thousand, three hundred and fifty gigabytes of storage. More realistically I have a little shy of thirty gigabytes, with the crimp still being my available bandwidth, unfortunately. Even with 091 Labs’ excellent pipe and my own fantastic home Internet speeds, I’m still averaging a maximum of 1MB/s up.
Come 2020, in (good old) Ireland I expect to have 10MB/s up and at least one hundred gigabytes of free online storage, before any additions or purchases.
The next question: Is all of this a sign of a comining technological singularity? Someone like Ray Kurzweil would answer with an empathic “Yes!”, but I don’t equate technologic evolution to the technologic revolution we need before we as a race possess self-improving machine intelligences and seamless synergy between flesh and metal, coupled with an economy that makes us all filthy rich by early 21st century standards. Never mind the moral, theologic, political and economic changes that has to accompany it. Fuck. Any singularity is far off when I share the world with dumb Christian rednecks who want to teach my children, in school, their nonsense about a god possessing a magic wand that magicked all life into existence as-is.
It’s 03:37 and I’m listening to Coldplay’s X&Y. Swap the zero for a one and the hour would be 1337 in every way which matters.
I think I’m going to save this draft for face-checking tomorrow at 091 Labs, pee and then lay down in a probably vain attempt to sleep.