I did something Wednesday that I hadn’t done since I was still an NYU student: I covered a live event. In a shameless plug for the company that hosted it, as it happens to be the same company that employs yours truly part-time, Think Mobile was a very interesting gathering, and I truly learned more in one day about technology for mobile phones and devices than I ever expected.
OK, now that I’m done brown-nosing, while riding the PATH train back to Hoboken, I kept thinking about the differences in the technology I used Wednesday and the technology, or lack thereof, I used when I covered my last live event: the NYU men’s basketball team, sadly known as the Violets, losing to Glassboro State (now known as Rowan University) during the 1989-90 season.
On Wednesday, I used a brand-spanking-new HP 6830s laptop, hooked up to a WiFi network, and I was able to post stories directly onto WebNewser in seconds using a content-management system called Movable Type.
Let’s just say it wasn’t quite like that in the spring of 1990.
I covered NYU at Glassboro State with a good, old-fashioned pen and paper, including copying down the stream of expletives from NYU’s head coach when I asked, in a completely professional tone and minus any sarcasm (shocking for me, I know), if he considered switching to a man-to-man defense in the second half, since NYU’s zone defense worked well enough to give its opponent a 41-14 halftime lead.
I then returned to my dorm room and crafted my story on a Macintosh SE-20. Yes, I am indeed referring to the first-generation Macs, with the six-inch, black-and-white screen built into the CPU. This powerhouse computer boasted one megabyte of memory and a whopping 20-megabyte hard drive. And yes, I do mean megabyte, not gigabyte.
After outdoing Grantland Rice, Ernest Hemingway and Peter Vescey, all while enjoying a couple of ice-cold long-neck bottles of Miller Lite from the little cube refrigerator in my dorm room (remember those?), I copied my masterpiece onto a floppy disk. I’m still amazed that one tiny flash drive can hold the equivalent of a crate of floppies.
While e-mail did exist in a somewhat primitive form back in 1990, it didn’t exist in my fraternity house. I didn’t even have a modem. So I used the earliest form of data networking to transfer the story to the offices of the school paper, the Washington Square News: I walked over with the floppy. I was even prepared enough for disaster to bring a second floppy with the story on it, just in case, as there was no way I was making that trip twice.
And naturally, there was no way to receive the instant gratification I get when one of my stories or blogs enters cyberspace. I had to wait until Monday’s newspaper was delivered to my dorm.
The good old days? My ass. I’ll take the new technology, thank you very much.