In keyboarding class today we started doing my Storyboard activity. This is patterned after the storyboard on a BBS (Bulleting Board System) I frequented back in the mid-80’s. Basically, everyone starts a story and every 4 minutes they switch seats and continue the story started on the other person’s computer.
I introduce it by giving them a little history lesson, describing online life before the internet. In 6th period, when I said “back before the internet existed”, one of the boys responded with “How did you survive?” I explained that we had to connect to the BBS one at a time and talked about the slow data transfer rate, how the individual letters come through as if someone was typing it as we watched. They were amazed, and completely dumbfounded when they asked how long a picture would take and I explained that we didn’t even have them.
I told them about having to wait for the line to be free, and setting my Apple IIe on auto dial. In 4th period, when I mentioned hearing the busy signal in the background as I went about my business waiting for the computer to connect, they looked at me with blank faces. Busy signal? Two, maybe three of them (out of 36) even knew what I was talking about. It was the same in 6th and 7th period when I asked who knew what a busy signal was even before I talked about it. Two or three hands went up and one kid started going “beep, beep, beep” imitating it.
It was funny watching them as I talked about not having call-waiting or voice mail and how you would just have to keep calling your friends back until someone answered.
I probably had the same look on my face when my parents talked about listening to the radio shows before TV came about.