March 6, 2014
by Neil Turner
This month marks 15 years since I first used the internet at home. I thought I’d write a letter to myself, aged 14, about how things have changed since then.
Hello. This is a letter from 2014, 15 years into the future. Around about now, you will be using the internet at home for the first time, and it will be awesome. What’s more, is that as time goes on, it will get even more awesome, and the ways that you use the internet will change.
Firstly, it’ll get faster. Right now you’re using a 56k modem, and downloading a 10 MB file can take the best part of an hour. But in a couple of years time, you’ll get ‘broadband’, and that’ll increase your download speeds tenfold, to around 512 Kbps. Better yet, it’s ‘always on’, so there’s no need to dial a number and hear the modem make all of those screechy noises, and you’re not charged by the minute, so no more £40 per month phone bills for your parents to pay.
Although you will still hear the screechy modem noises in the future, I’m afraid. You’ll spend a couple of years in university halls of residence with them, and then share an office with a fax machine.
Eventually your internet connection will hit the lofty highs of 20 Mbps – yes, megabits, not kilobits. You’ll be able to use the internet to watch full TV programmes, and you won’t even need to use that ghastly RealPlayer software anymore. Oh yeah, and if you think RealPlayer is bad now then I have bad news for you, but hey, it gets worse before it gets better (i.e. you can get rid of it completely!)
The music industry eventually figures out how to sell music legally online so you won’t be using Napster for much longer. Hurrah! In fact, you don’t really buy CDs anymore. Next year, your parents will buy you a portable MP3 player – a bit like a MiniDisc player – because you’ll do well in your GCSEs. Just not necessarily in the subjects that you expect.
And soon you won’t even need a computer to use the internet. One day, you’ll buy a mobile phone, but with a big touchscreen that also has the internet – and, it works anywhere! In fact in some places it’s faster than the internet on your computer and you’ll be able to sit in a bus station and use the internet at 38 Mbps! Because you’ll still be using buses when you’re almost 30 as you still haven’t passed your driving test yet. Sorry to be the bringer of bad news.
In better news, you will eventually find someone to love, and who loves you back in equal measures. It’ll take a while, but you will get there and you will be happy.
Also, and you may find this utterly bizarre now, but you are writing this letter on Firefox, a descendent of Netscape, running on an Apple Mac. You will, in time, give up your reliance on Windows and Internet Explorer. Oh, and Apple makes your phone too. And a ‘tablet’ – a flat touchscreen device that doesn’t have a keyboard but let you use the internet and programs, and watch videos, which is pretty cool.
I’m sorry to say that all of the time you spent learning to code in BASIC turns out to be for little value. You’ll end up knowing the very basics of several languages, but nothing substantial, sadly.
So anyway, on the whole the future is pretty awesome. See you in 15 years!