I connected to my local Internet access provider and logged in. I threw out my junk mail and proceeded to my IQueue. My agenda for the day reminded me that I had to pick up my dry-cleaning and a bunch of other mundane things. I decided to put them all off until after lunch, and so I started my local Web browser.
Thankfully, my service provider kept a listing of Internet starting points. Because I was at a loss for a topic with which to start, I went to the Global Network Navigator (GNN). The Whole Internet Catalog seemed like the place to begin.
Once there, I took a look at the Internet Catalog Top 50. "Tango? You can tango on the Internet?" This I had to see... So I clicked to Chile, where I read a book review in Spanish (Asi Bailaban El Tango). After I had enough Spanish, I returned to the Internet starting points page.
A few days ago I told a friend of mine that I had just gotten Internet access. She had been on the Internet for months and she told me about a school for starship design. I thought she was kidding, until I actually clicked there. They even had a section on computer programs and classes! I looked at the student page, where I saw an advertisement for a used FTL drive (at least they had a sense of humor).
One of the students had left a link to the X-Files Web server. I read the review of Friday's episode (which I had missed) and all the dirt on Sculley. I also downloaded the theme music of the show to my home computer. "One click of my mouse... this is terrific!" I noticed that one of the people who posted a comment on the X-Files server was an alumnus of Lehigh University. In his post, he had left a link which led to the guest book at Lehigh University's web server.
I live in Bethlehem, but I have never been to Lehigh University (which is also in Bethlehem.) "I always wanted to go to Lehigh," I thought. One click and I was there. I filled out the guest book and wanted to leave a link to my own home page. Unfortunately, I didn't have one at the time. So, I resolved to learn how to create one. I took a beautiful guided tour of Lehigh's campus. "I didn't know it used to be an arbaretum..." Their server was amazing. If this World Wide Web "thing" had been in place ten years ago when I was looking for colleges, I could have saved a lot of time by getting a good idea of what my prospective schools were like even before leaving my house!
One of the other guests who signed at Lehigh mentioned something called the Virtual Tourist. I discovered the Virtual Tourist's world map. I definitely had not grasped the words "world wide web"... I found my way to Boston, and toured Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Boston University.
After seeing all the interesting images that had been linked into the pages to build the tours, I decided I needed a more interesting background image for my computer. So, for a change, I knew what I wanted to find... but how could I go about finding it? I went back to my service provider's list of Internet starting points and started searching the Internet through WWW search engines. Lycos (after a few rejections) pointed me to some archives containing images of famous paintings.
I downloaded one of Van Gogh's paintings (ok, its an image of a replica, but good enough for me). Then, I found Dali's Absence of the Persistence of Memory (the drooping clocks painting). Unforunately, I had no idea how to install Dali's painting into my background and resolved to figure that out right after I created a home page. :)
I launched my news reader to see what everyone on the Internet was talking about those days. I selected "overview" from a menu and my news reader prompted me: "Do you really want to get 6324 new news groups?" "WHAT!? No, NO! Of course not!" I thought as I clicked <CANCEL>. I decided to subscribe to rec.humor.funny, comp.sys.[CENSORED TO REMAIN PLATFORM NON-DISCRIMINATORY] and some of the Clarinet service's headline news groups. ...and a few "for sale" groups. ...oh, and the ones about philosphy. ...and, autoracing. ...and of course the ones about the World Wide Web... and... new sites. "Maybe I should have just clicked <OK> before," I sighed.
I breezed through the headline news and skipped all the new stuff for sale. I read the latest news group postings on a programming language called Dylan (comp.lang.dylan), read rec.humor.funny for a laugh, and read movie reviews for the current blockbusters to figure out which one to see first. I found the weather forecast and decided to see a movie that night since it was supposed to rain later.
I wondered what interactive games I could find for a rainy afternoon. I found an interactive tic-tac-toe program (which beat me horribly) and a cool MUD that simulated a zoo without the smells (or the animals for that matter...). I was amazed when I found a walking tour of the moon. I couldn't resist visiting that. While strolling across the lunar surface and looking up at the big blue marble called home, I realized I missed the last eclipse!
So, I set out in search of some images of the last solar eclipse for my desktop (even cooler than Dali's droopy clocks). Nearby the eclipse images, I found a program that computes everything I never wanted to know about the lunar orbit and its cycles.
In the mood for something a little lighter, I started home-page hopping. I went back to each of the major pages I had visited (using my history list and bookmarks) and looked for the author's name or link.
I stumbled upon an interactive choose-your-own-adventure book (remember those?). Wandered around there for a while, and finally traveled over to Digital Equipment Corporation's home page. There, I retrieved pricing information on a few models of the new DEC personal computers.
My Pop-mail program announced new mail from one of my co-workers. He had sent me the URL for the Shakespearean Insult Server (no kidding!). Sure enough, there it was. Sufficiently refreshed and brushed up on my old English, I felt brave enough to tackle the works of Shakespeare which are online at MIT. I started skimming Macbeth, using the reference glossary to look up words when I was totally lost.
I was thinking how much information I had skimmed over today as I began wondering what else I could do with the Internet. I searched and found a floral shop that would ship flowers anywhere. So, I arranged to have flowers sent to my mother.
Wondering what else I could arrange, I tried, and failed, to order pizza for lunch. After basically playing all morning, I began to think of my upcoming vacation. I wondered if maybe I could squeeze in enough time to travel to France. I subscribed to some French news groups to start brushing up on my Francais. I read the NewsbytesTM for Paris and retrieved a French Onion Soup recipe from the Sydney, Australia, archives just for fun.
While my recipe was printing, I began to wonder how many people were doing just what I was doing. Again I went back to the major sites I had visited and discovered that most of them kept public usage statistics. I was astounded to see that most of the servers had thousands of requests a day and some had thousands of request per hour!
By now, I was certain this would be a slow week in terms of work actually accomplished, so I looked for some more online books. There were a ton of online books to be found! I found the complete works of Poe, the Scarlet Letter, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, and Les Miserables.
My modem was only 14.4kbs and I began wondering what this would be like at 28.8. I eagerly read some interesting pieces on new modem technology. I decided to splurge, so I ordered a new 28.8 modem and had it shipped overnight.
I had spent the entire morning browsing the World Wide Web. I had heard that there were many different services that were accessible through the Web. I used my service provider's Internet starting points page again to lead me to CERN in Switzerland where the whole project was started.
There I read the reviews of the last World Wide Web conference that took place in CERN Switzerland. I was reading about URLs to include inline images when I remembered signing Lehigh's guest book. I still didn't have a home page.
I decided to tackle my home page project right now. I called my service provider and they explained the steps that I would have to go through to get my home page up. I downloaded a short document explaining the basics of the HyperText Markup Language. I used Word to write a few pages of text and placed the appropriate HTML into them. I tested them locally with my web browser and they looked really terrible.
Looking at my first attempt at HTML gave me a new level of appreciation for all the beautiful and well organized sites I had visited earlier today. I spent an hour looking at the source HTML behind some of the home pages I had seen earlier and made some changes to my home page. When I had something I felt reasonably proud of, I uploaded it to my service provider's web server.
By now I was really hungry and realized it was dinner time. I hadn't even opened the window shades today or stepped outside, and it was already getting dark. I turned off my computer resolved to spend some time OUTSIDE the Internet. (Besides, I could log back in tomorrow.)