I think I was in Class 5 or 6, when I had first interaction with Internet. Back then, in 2011-12, internet was costly, real costly. 1 Internet back then was just luxury; and out of reach for middle class families like us. Cyber cafes were not ‘well known’ back then. I heard about internet from all the people, where you could download games, watch videos and many more. I was really curious
After much begging, my parents finally recharged a data pack of 100MB for 30 days on my mom’s phone. I didn’t had a phone then. First thing I did with internet was, I googled for mobile games. Sadly I was unable to get any games run on my mom’s phone; I still wonder what a rubbish phone was that.
On my first interaction with web, I found an anonymous blog called ‘beautiful stories 4 u’. It had a few small stories, with some nice pictures. Those stories were very nice and sometimes critically thought provoking. It also had an RSS feed. With Opera Mini, it was very easy to keep it at fingertips with the built-in ‘subscribe to feed’ feature.
Time passed, in 2014 I got my own computer. Meanwhile that blogger stopped posting. In the mid 2015, the the whole blog was replaced with a Text. ‘The blog you’re looking for has been suspended’ - something like that with a huge ‘B’ logo. Apparently, the blog was hosted on Blogger (blogspot), and they just ‘Deleted’ it. I don’t know, if the blog owner wrote that stories or plagiarized them from someone else, but those were good. I have no idea, why the blog was suddenly deleted. Whatever the reason might be, but a nice blog was lost, just disappeared without any traces.
Around that same time, I heard about Wapka. It was website which used to let you create your own website without writing any code. You can say, it was more like a ‘simplified’ version of
geocities. I built some ugly websites and showed them to my parents. I don’t know, what they thought about those, because they used to give me a ‘Okay; good; stop wasting time, and study’ look.
I became fascinated with the concept of web. It opened the whole world to me through that small screen of my mom’s phone. (I didn’t use my computer to surf the web, because it spent too much more data than mobile phone). ‘100MB’ data was a huge deal to me, as there was no certainty whether my parents were gonna recharge data pack again or not. If I can recall correctly, I got only 300MB data from 2011 to 2017. So I had to make most out of it within the time of 30 days.
I read, I read too much. With the screen size of 320x240, it was kinda hard to read. Many websites including Wikipedia didn’t always load correctly. After many attempts If I was fortunate enough to load a single article, a huge page was presented to me. I guess, responsive or mobile-first websites were not that widespread. Opera mini had this cool feature to save pages for offline viewing. It was real helpful. I would, list all the topics I want to read about. Then after turning 5-6 pages of google search, I would find something cool. Then came the hard part, after about 10 to 20 ‘‘failed to load page’ errors, I would be able to save it. I would read 1 or 2 article and ‘save’ others to read later. I could read the saved articles without internet, it seemed a awesome feature to me
Back in 2010-11, Google search was not that much ‘personalized’. The results were pretty neutral compared to today’s experience. Turning page after page of google search to find something was normal to me.
Then came the Facebook, the new hot thing. Once, I heard one of my family member saying, he is going to create a Facebook account. Facebook? I had no idea, what it was, I thought it was just a website just like the blog I mentioned earlier. The word ‘account’ was only linked to Bank in my brain.
Now, years later, everything seems labyrinthine. People say web/internet is broken! My opinion is, Internet has evolved, evolved so much that it has became distant from general public. Some things, some people evolve so fast that it becomes hard to recognize the person or thing it once was. To most people here, internet is ‘just’ only about Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, WhatsApp2, TikTok3 and few news sites. Google once was a search engine to look for resources scattered around the web, but now it is the gateway of internet.
The situation is worst than people anticipate! If I tell people that I have a website and I write ‘blogs’; they can find it at
palashbauri.in. Most of them don’t even know what the hell is a website; those who do, most of them don’t know how to type a URL in the browser. Few of them surprisingly asked me, if they would find
it in the Play Store.
Look, I understand, everyone doesn’t know these things, but what about the teens who are always sticking their face to their screen? They doesn’t even know (or want to know) that there are things other than social media on web.
Internet was supposed to expand the horizon; but social-media made it shrank even more. Social media is a part of the Web, but it is silently replacing the web.
Everywhere I look, I just see monopolies; is this what modern imperialism looks like?
I see the web as this peaceful forest once it was. Where every animal lived peacefully, now since the ‘Beasts’ have arrived it’s just chaos.
[For around ₹103 (approximately, $3) you got 100MB for 30 days, and for ₹750 (approx. $17) you get 2GB for 30 days also; and speed? It was remarkable, to download a 5mb mp3, it took around 20-30 minutes. Well, the cost might not seem that huge at first look, but back then it was cruelly overpriced. Now you can get, 2GB + unlimited calls and 100 SMS per day for 365 days with around ₹3000 (well, the price depending on the carrier; but it’s mostly same, give or take a few rupees), so the cost per GB is about ₹4 (also you get unlimited calls and SMS).4 In 2010-11, per GB cost was minimum, ₹375 (with 2GB - ₹750) and about ₹1030 with 100MB-₹103 pack. With ₹375, I could’ve got about 5-6 liters of petrol.
For better idea, for international reader:
- Exchange rate of $USD -> ₹INR, was $1=₹45.5768;
- Price of petrol in ₹INR (in capital of India, Delhi) was ₹65.64 per liter (1st December, 2011)]
Well, I know, whatapp is just a messaging app but it now has turned into a micro-social-media, since the introduction of ‘Status’ feature ↩︎
TikTok is banned in India since June 29, 2020. ↩︎
Back then you had to recharge a different pack for calling; and there was no such thing as Unlimited call; you got charged for every second you were on call. ↩︎