|May 14th, 2009|
Was being born in 1971 the perfect time to be born a geek?
- It meant I got to see Star Wars in the theater, 13 times, at ages 6 and 7, exactly when it would overwhelm my sense of wonder.
- I got an 8-bit computer at exactly the age when boys get obsessive about details, and I spent days PEEKing and POKEing and typing in listings from magazines and learning how computers actually worked.
- It meant at least half the new games I played were actually new ideas.
- And yet I got to play real pinball machines.
- In real arcades.
- New Wave science fiction was the used paperbacks laying around, and I got to read cyberpunk and steampunk as they were invented, and see SF when fandom was not yet a media circus.
- I got to play D&D from as close to the beginning as most anyone.
- And feel like I had inside baseball knowledge during the D&D scene in E.T., which the other folks in the theater didn’t get.
- I was there for when the X-Men were new and fresh
- I got to high school when PCs were becoming ubiquitous.
- I got to college when Macs were on Apple campuses, and actually useful.
- And when you had no choice but to use libraries for research, so I actually learned what real research is.
- And I was too young to feel cynical about Dead Poets Society.
- I got onto the Internet after it was tiny, but before it was mass market. So I got to see and use most of the tools and software that were key to its evolution, as they were used, then replaced, then discarded. Pine, gopher, Usenet, Mozilla…
- I read Sandman when the issues first came out.
- I got into the games business before it was mass media, but got to ride the wave.
- …and also got to see the Web unfold…
- …and got Wikipedia and Google just in time for when I didn’t need to use libraries anymore…
- …and see some of the science fiction coming true.
Looking back on it, it makes me feel a bit sorry for those born ten years later. And I can’t judge ten years earlier, but so much of that seemed to hit at the right age. Looking back at history, it seems like the last big waves of popular invention like this were decades ago. Teens with hot rods? Engineering in the 20s? I see my kids now, and they are so clearly getting the finished products of so much, not the products in the process of invention… Am I wrong?