Like so many of my generation, I have been incredibly fortunate to have grown up in this era. We are clearly in a revolution, and I like it. Since my childhood, computers have grasped my attention with their possibilities and the insertion of the Internet into my life back in 1996 was no different.
Dialup was my gateway drug; my friend Kevin had hooked me on its mind-blowing potential during the first years of High School, forever turning the outside world into that scary place with no websites. Well, I say "forever" but in reality it was about 10 years; that's all it took to turn a mainly bedroom-based pursuit into a trillion-dollar industry. It all happened so fast and so naturally that it was almost nothing special; it was just life, occurring. But when I consider it now I can only imagine in awe what the next decade might bring.
Although so relatively recent, those old memories of kicking back with plenty of Pringles, Icy Lemon Fanta and local Quake 2 matches while the 56k maxed out downloading an 8MB Quake mod seem like a lifetime away, and they're not the only thing I have to thank Kevin for. The next milestone memory I have is of him showing me his latest discovery - HTML. We thought it was neat and knocked out a few sites including the prestigious "Kev and Tags' Duke 3D Maps" - your standard Geocities site complete with frames, glowing green-on-black text and our sarcastic comments on other people's hard work.
It wasn't long before it was damned near impossible to get my family on the phone and so my parents had a second line installed, dedicated to online activities. Soon after, we went on holiday to Aberdeen and I, computer-starved for an entire week, started to plan my web development empire. The notepad itself is long gone, but I can still recall my doodlings of the "Limit Web Design" company logo. They were pretty shocking.
Unfortunately, it wasn't quite the future yet. The web had caught on, but not in the explosive way it eventually did. Technology was primitive and although I developed a number of products, I knew that none of them were sustainable. I was using Miva Mia for crying out loud; I can't even find any references to the original markup language to link to, but imagine a really old version of ColdFusion and you've got it.
The issue with this and the next language I adopted, PHP, was that unless you had a solid and extensive framework to start from (very much an unknown quantity back then) you were pretty much starting from scratch the whole time. I wrote some pretty decent applications in PHP, but I never got the chance to develop the framework I needed.
So then life got in the way. I went to University, then I moved to England, and then I discovered the real world of work. I was lucky enough to acquire my hobby as my profession, and I spent a few years developing webs, watching and learning as computers stealthily erupted. What I failed to realise was that the sweet synesthesia of the Aberdeen approach hadn't reared its head for years. Last week, I felt that feeling.
Suddenly, everything felt possible again. The new wave of ASP.NET / MVC combined with brilliant things like jQuery has given me back that confidence to go out and Just Make Sites. I feel like I'm in control of my web development destiny. When I was thinking about some site ideas I had kicking round, my head was spun back to that Aberdeen view and it did literally feel like an open road.
I guess you have to go through the past to gain perspective, but it's right now and I've got the taste back. I'm starting this blog (please forgive the basic, developer style design!), and I'm going to try doing something useful with this clarity I'm feeling.
Now, where to start?