“Oh! So they have the Internet on computers now.”
– Homer Simpson
The first time I heard about the Internet, it was 1996.
I was 12 years old, living in Nairobi, Kenya and had heard friends from school — mainly the ones from wealthy diplomat families — talking about the time they got to “Surf the Web”. I did not really understand what they meant but decided that I wanted to try my surf skills on the World Wide Web too. Exactly how someone surfed on a computer (California, “Living in the USA”, Beach Boys style), I couldn’t quite figure out. But I was sure it would be fun.
In my seventh grade brain, I had this vision of the Internet like a power point presentation from God: you got to flip through pages like you were reading a magazine until you finally found an article of interest. Who wrote these articles and how they got on the Web were questions I did not bother asking. I was pretty much just stuck on the whole surfing thing.
A few months after the Internet was introduced into my vocabulary, my Dad sat me down in front of our brick-of-an-Apple-computer one day after school and said our family was now hooked up to the Internet.
(“Cowabunga. Surf’s up, dude!”)
After 10 minutes of trying to connect to the Internet via dial-up (Kenyan phone lines were notoriously unreliable), we finally heard the jarring doe-da-dedo-dedo-de music of the Web, and we were on the Information Super Highway. My dad typed “http://www.yahoo.com” into the Netscape Browser and showed me how, if I wrote a subject in the text field, Yahoo would magically find a list of websites for me to browse.
Well the only thing I wanted to know about at that time was Fimo, so that was the first Internet search I did.
(For those of you less familiar with Fimo, it is a type of clay that you can bake in an oven to harden. Its main purpose is to create cool beads and one-inch animals. I was way into Fimo in the mid-90s… Funny I have not heard a lot about it recently).
Yahoo retrieved five websites on Fimo. My favourite was the first one on the list, which showed pictures of Fimo beads made by a lady in Michigan. For a girl in Nairobi, this was pretty cool. I spent the next month typing “Fimo” into the Yahoo search box every day to see if more websites had been put online.