I've come to a bit of a crossroads lately in regards to my cell phone. I still have the first phone I ever got and for that reason, I'll be sad to let it go; but it is almost four years old and as everybody knows, in the technology world, four years is more like a hundred. While I've been debating what to do about my "cellular quandary," it dawned on me that this sort of thing will be an interview question of the future (and possibly even now if parents and grandparents are techies). I started thinking and came up with a list of interview questions for my descendents to ask (in addition to the generic "where were you born?" or "what was your father's full name?") me in about thirty years. And, since I'm a nice person, I'll provide my answers (you're welcome, future descendants!).
What was the first cell phone you ever got? When or how old were you?
I was 18, yes, you heard right, 18. My parents didn't believe in buying any child of theirs a cell phone (and I agree with them) so it was something I got once I became an adult. Before then I had to just struggle along using e-mail and a land line, tragic, I know... The first phone I got was a flip phone. It HAD to be a flip phone because ever since I was little, the flip cell phone was the essence of cool, the epitome of technological awesomeness. Now, people wouldn't be caught dead with a flip phone. C'est la vie...
What was your first e-mail address? Did it hold any special meaning? When or how old were you?
My father got his first e-mail account in the mid-1990s and I used that until I got my own. He had one of those CompuServe e-mail addresses and I remember the assigned password was "ankle lustre" and that continues to crack me up to this day. Mostly, I just had fun sending emoticons back and forth to friends. When I was in Jr. High I got my first e-mail account but I let it drop after a few months and don't really remember much about it. When I was 15 and on Yearbook in High School, an e-mail address was mandatory so I got one on Yahoo. I tried about a hundred different combinations which were all taken so in frustration I just typed in "blueomega128," blue because it is my favorite color, omega because I was playing a video game with that in the title at the time and 128 because my birthday is 12/28. I still have that e-mail account to this day, though I prefer my gmail account now. I've kept the same moniker and while it is embarrassing to tell people, it is certainly unique and easy to remember.
When was the first time you used the internet and/or "got connected?"
It was the early 1990s, I'm thinking 1993, when my dad came home with this thing called a modem. It was about the size of a bread basket and almost never worked. I remember he was up most of the night trying to set the thing up and once he did we all kind of had a "now what?" moment. It would be a few years before we ever used the internet and even then, I wasn't allowed to go online. I remember I felt like quite a little rebel when I was eight and I'd sneak online when no one was looking (though I don't think I ever did anything once I was online).
When did you get your first computer? What did it look like? Do you remember what brand it was?
We got our first computer the same time we got that modem that didn't work. I remember my parents were all excited and took me into the living room where there was this big "thing" in the middle of the room. I was totally bored because it didn't look like it was at all fun so I really didn't care less. I remember how they tried to explain to me that "you play games" and "type stuff" on it but all it looked like to me was a big box and a little TV screen on top of it. I literally remember thinking "what the hell am I going to do with that?!" (or a five year-old equivalent of that thought). I think it was a Dell, the first couple we had were Dells. Then, in 1998, we got our first HP and that's what its been pretty much ever since.
What kinds of stuff did you do on that computer?
I played different games. I remember one of them was this puzzle game with bugs and lizards and another one I liked was this weird game with elves(?) playing musical instruments. There was also Mavis Bacon and a Mario typing game in their somewhere. I was completely crazy about SimTown too, I think that was my favorite. I remember in the late 1990s, I got obsessed with playing board games on the computer and Clue and Life were my favorites. I was also crazy about Caesar III and the other city building games in the series. At school, once we got computers, the hot game was Where in the World is Carmen Sandiago? If you want to play that you pretty much had to fight someone for it. Another biggie there was Oregon Trail. I was a total Oregon (and later Yukon) Trail junkie. Ironically, doing genealogy, I found out an ancestor of actually traveled part of the Oregon Trail and wrote a diary about it. I actually think I played more computer games at school than I did at home in the beginning.
What kind of technological achievements did you see if your lifetime?
I lived through the birth and proliferation of the home PC, mass internet use, cellular phones, e-mail, instant messaging, chat rooms, websites and I'm sure I'll be adding to this list.
What things did you use or do that have been replaced (either partially or entirely) by technology?
I remember life without cell phones (and sometimes I miss those days!) and that is probably the biggest thing I remember living without. I also remember using, you know, BOOKS to get information and actually going to the library and thumbing through the card catalog to try and find one of those said BOOKS (crazy, I know!). I also remember using a typewriter, though that was more for fun than for necessity. I also used floppy disks and I remember when, gasp!, people kept paper records of things and, double gasp!, wrote stuff out by hand. And here's the biggest thing I remember (and miss), penmanship actually mattered and was taught in schools!
What was the first Apple product you ever got?
It was a second generation iPod and it wasn't mine, it was my parents', though I often stole it. Before then we listened to music the old fashioned way, on CDs and cassette.
I'm also working on a separate set of interview questions which are television related and have to do with events in the 1990s and 2000s (like Oklahoma City and 9/11). While my grandmother doesn't have a computer and thus, can't answer any of these new interview questions, my parents can and so can some older relatives. While I'll continue to ask using the standard questions, I'm planning on integrating these types of questions into my interviews. Though a lot of these events and developments are fairly recent, I think it is important to ask about them now, while they're still fresh in the minds of those who experienced them as opposed to waiting until they're a distant memory. If anyone can come up with any other good interview questions to add to this list or the ones I'm working on, I'd love to hear them!
UPDATE: I just thought of some questions you could add having to do with social networking such as whether you used Twitter, Facebook, BLOGS (wink! wink!), etc. Like technology, the possible interview questions are limitless apparently.