Early Days Online

Yesterday, Rory asked whether we remember our first times online or with a computer in general. I certainly do. I may have shared some of these memories before, but just in case I haven’t, I’m going to dedicate a post to them.

I got my first computer at the age of eleven in January of 1998. That one didn’t have an Internet connection though. Its operating system, Windows 95 SP2 (which my father explained was like Windows 96), did support Internet Explorer, but my screen reader didn’t. That screen reader, Slimware Windows Bridge, was quite primitive. So was the Braille display, which I remember to be attached to my computer via the printer port. Though it did work with just Braille, without speech, if the speech unit in the Braille display malfunctioned, so did the entire thing.

In 2002, I got my second computer and my first JAWS version. For those who don’t know, JAWS is the most commonly-used screen reader today. This computer had Windows 98 installed on it and it did have Internet access.

My father at first was adamant that I use the Internet as much as I want, even though we had a dial-up connection back then (not the kind where you can’t phone and go online at the same time). He said that, if the bill got too expensive, we’d get broadband. Then when the bill did get to over €300 over the summer, it turned out broadband wasn’t available at our house. After a few months of my parents trying to restrict my Internet access and my trying to evade said restrictions, we eventually got cable.

I got my first online diary that fall of 2002. It was on DiaryLand if I remember correctly, though I often switched between DiaryLand, Diary-X, Teen Open Diary and whatever else was available. The only service I never actively used, was Xanga. I also had a Dutch online diary.

The worst mistake I made, looking back, was not taking care of other people’s privacy. I not only wrote out every argument I’d had with my parents in detail, but also referred to other people, such as my teachers, by their real names. One teacher in particular had a rather unusual last name and at one point was googling her name for genealogy purposes. Not surprisingly, she stumbled upon my Dutch diary. Though I (interestingly) had used a nickname there, she quickly found out it was me. She personally didn’t mind, but did caution me that others might.

What mistakes did you make in your early days online?

#IWSG: Inspiration to Start Writing

It’s not the first Wednesday of the month, but the Insecure Writer’s Support Group (#IWSG) day got set for today anyway because last Wednesday was New Year’s. I should really start to schedule these posts in advance, as right now I’m sick with the flu and not in the mood to blog. I mean, yesterday I ran a fever. Probably the days before too, but I didn’t have it checked then. Today I’m fine temperature-wise, but I still feel generally awful. I spent the entire day in bed.

This month’s optional question is what inspired you to start on your writing journey. The short answer is I don’t know. I’ve wanted to be a writer for as long as I can remember. My parents did encourage me, even though looking back I was a pretty awful fiction writer. Either they didn’t notice, which I doubt as my Mom read a lot, or they didn’t want to discourage me.

I first started writing actual stories and even what could’ve turned into books had I finished them when I was around thirteen. I don’t know what inspired me to draft those first manuscripts.

In the summer that I turned fourteen, I discovered my favorite Dutch YA author, Caja Cazemier. She was definitely an inspiration for me. A few of my stories actually contained a lot of plagiarism from her.

And then I discovered the Internet and I started writing for an audience. Well, at first I didn’t really care about an audience. My original online diary had about five readers including my parents and the site I hosted it on, didn’t have a comment function. I actually moved it to WordPress inspired by some criticism I’d gotten from my parents about it.

I’m not sure what else to say right now. I am currently very much inspired to continue writing by the people I meet online. I can’t even imagine writing without an audience in mind anymore.