Information Technology

The first time I ever accessed the internet was on my Dad's computer, on June the 2nd 1996. Since then, the internet has become a major part of my life. Here are some diary excerpts which chart my increasing interest in it:

June 2nd 1996:
"Then I had my first ever go on the Internet, with Dad and Carolyn's guidance. They have a screen where you just type in a word and it comes up with a whole lot of web sites that contain that word. I looked up things like rap-groups, comic books, Seinfeld, and other irrelevant sites. It was very slow, but the sheer amount of information available was awe-inspiring."

March 17th 1997:
"It was Workplace Health and Safety this morning and I felt like I was about to have a panic attack; Mark the teacher was telling us how to lay out the assignment and how we're required to look up the health and safety site on the internet, which I don't know how to do.

April 17th 1997:
"For the rest of the time I hung out in the library and surfed the internet -- I was looking for two things, one was my uncle's web-site, the other was the spelling of a certain jazz funk fusionist's name. But I couldn't find either of them. I searched for ages. I hate the internet."

May 1st 1997:
"We had a new class today called Data Communication Applications, hereafter known as Internet class. It's a class which deals with stuff I'm not familiar with. People say the Internet is the way of the future, and there'll be more and more jobs in that area. So I guess I'll have to learn this stuff. I just can't see myself being a net-head -- I've always been one to stay in my own world. Assessment in this subject is based 100% on the assignment, which is to create our own website."

Over the next few months, I put up my own web-site and started surfing around looking at other people's personal web-sites...

September 12th 1997:
"After that, something rather special happened -- I got onto the internet and found a site by a friend of Joan Parr's -- Joan is the depressed poet chick who sent me an email just recently. Anyway this site was by a guy named Ted and he's sort of Joan's boyfriend -- he's seriously in love with her and he likes to talk at length about his deepest emotions, letting the whole world inside his head. I read his serious stuff and his comedy stuff and signed his guestbook, saying how touching it was. He used to be miserable 'cause he had such a bad childhood with people pickin' on him in school and everything, but now he's the happiest guy on earth because he's met Joan and she is the light of his life. I could see a lot of myself in Ted and there was so much interesting stuff on his website. It made me think more than ever that I should put some information about myself on my own website to make it more interesting."

September 26th 1997:
"At home I must have spent an hour or two just sitting still, thinking about my web-page. I wonder if I'll be able to keep my email address after I finish the information technology course. It could get tricky to keep track of email over the holidays. If I don't return to Swinburne, of course, then I'll be wanting to get my own internet connection at home. If I don't get into ANY course next year then I'll probably spend a lot more time on the internet than I ought to. You know why I'm so obsessed with this? Because this is the ultimate artistic exhibit. My writings and pictures are going to be on display for the whole world. Just think of all the people who might drop into my web-site from someone else's guestbook. Like all my art, my website is designed to have maximum mass appeal. Just think of all the people who will admire it, smile at it, and envy my talent."

October 6th 1997:
"After that I had a big 'ol surf. In my travels I found my way into an internet chat room (for the first time in my life). What a bewildering experience! I didn't have a clue what anyone was talking about. It was a busy one. After much jumping from site to site and signing guestbooks, my surfing finally paid off. I found the site of a woman named Leyna who writes poems and short stories. The presentation and content were both very good -- it was very touching and possibly the best web-site I've ever seen. I signed the guestbook with as much eloquence and butt-kissing as I could, so as to maximise the chances of her signing my guestbook. She had a massive 42 entries in her guestbook, many of them links that I'll want to go to later. I think Leyna's Corner could become a new central point for me. I only have two entries in my own guestbook -- one is Dad, the other is a cool chick named Leelee whom I lured in. But there'll be more. It's like catching flies in a Web."
Q: How many Microsoft programmers does it take to screw in a lightbulb?
A: None. Bill Gates merely declares Darkness (TM) to be the latest standard.



You enter the information technology department on the fourth floor of H building -- as you walk through the corridors you catch glimpses of classrooms full of students in front of computer screens and hear snatches of conversation about the latest technology. Here's a teacher saying: "So Fp2 equals f open numbers two dat comma R, but if Fp2 equals null, then it print fs the second source file message and returns one." Walk right past those classrooms and head straight for the student access room where you can blend in.

The Computer Lab At Prahran

I did half of the information technology course in 1997. Originally I was planning to do the whole thing, but after one year I just couldn't take any more -- it was driving me crazy. Anyway I never really intended to become a computer programmer. I always wanted to do something more creative.

Doing an information technology course is like reading about Hitler's childhood -- becoming intimately acquainted with the early events that lead up to the horror which I know is going to follow. For the human race, not for me. It seems like all this new technology is going to have a negative effect on most of the human race. New technology is changing the face of work -- more things are becoming automated. That means companies will be employing less people, and they already are. I remember one of the assignments in my course was to interview someone about their information system at work. I interviewed my sister's boss who works at an engineering company. One of my questions was "What effect has new technology had on how this organisation operates?" And if I live to be a hundred I'll never forget what he said in reply (because I have it on tape) -- he said "We've been able to reduce staff levels and increase productivity at the same time." You see where this is going? More productivity, lower staff levels -- it means, technology is going to wipe out a whole bunch of jobs and it's going to be good for the economy. And that means, the rich people are going to get richer and the poor people are going to stay trapped down in that poor section of society because they won't be able to get a job. I mean, of course you can say, that all those computers will need people to operate them and they'll be creating jobs in the infotech field. But firstly, one machine can replace many human workers. And secondly, there's already a shortage of computer-personnel -- the fact is, not enough people are doing Information Technology courses. And who can blame them? Information Technology is not everyone's cup of tea -- for a start, not enough people are intelligent enough to do a course in it. And not enough people are interested in it -- I mean, if you're not interested in your field of study, then it's hard to succeed. It doesn't sound like a very good career -- I mean the pay is good, but money isn't everything.

I drew this

Do you know what will happen when so many people are unemployed? I mean, I'll be O.K. -- I like being unemployed 'cause I have plenty of hobbies. But for a lot of people, unemployment is demoralizing and turns them to alcahol and drugs and destructive lifestyles because they get so bored and frustrated with no work -- nothing to fill their time, and not enough money to raise their families. It looks like we're turning into a world where the divide between the rich and the poor will widen to the extreme, and the rich minority will have total control over the masses.

I wrote a formal report about the effects of technology on the workplace. It was an assignment for Report Writing class.

Computers are so cool. My life revolves around computers. I mean, without them, my life would be empty and meaningless. Can you imagine living in some previous age when there were no computers? What a horrible thought. I mean, even the thought of living in 1990 sends shudders up my spine -- computers were so lame back then. I'd hate to live in 1990. But I guess I DID live in 1990. But can you really call it living? It was just existing. Imagine bringing someone forward in time from the past and showing them today's computers -- they'd be totally blown away.

Over there is a student is chuckling to himself. You look over his shoulder and see that he is reading a joke email:
I am the very model of a modern teenage cyberpunk
I rent my own apartment and it's full of electronic junk
I own a Vax, a 486, I've even got a PDP
I finished Myst and Doom but I'm stumped by Wing Commander Three
I'm very well acqainted too with matters pornographical
I have a list of image sites both overseas and national
I'm totally an anarchist the government I'd like to wreck
Though if they were to get blown up, who'd give to me my welfare cheque?
When I have learnt what progress has been made upon the Internet
When I know something more than just a smattering of netiquette,
In short when I can have a worldwide soapbox on which to stand
I've got no time for other things, like beer and trips to Disneyland.
My life outside the Internet is very, very sad, you see
I cannot get my spots to fade, my social life's a tragedy
But still, if you need answers that concern your elecronic junk
I am the very model of a modern teenage cyberpunk.

Turning around you see one student who is using a very dodgy computer and it's coming up with a whole lot of error messages. And for some reason, the error messages are all in the form of haiku poems. Click here to read them.
The Computer Lab At Hawthorn

Here comes a security guard. "Please present your i.d. cards", he says. Hmmmmmmmm. Looks like that's your cue to hit the back button.