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Throwback time #HCSM

June 3, 2015

I am preparing a talk about “Health Care Social Media” for an upcoming physician conference. The talk is basically done but I am procrastinating on sending it in. The reason? I keep getting nostalgic! Computers/internet/tech is so much a part of me and of how I grew up; we lived on a hobby farm and I spent a lot of hours in the garden, helping split the firewood, tending the chickens, etc. but my mom was a computer scientist, and in retrospect, she spent a lot of time helping my brother and I get interested and involved with technology that other kids couldn’t even dream of.

It’s hard to step away from computers and the Internet and look ‘objectively’ at how it might be useful. For me, it simply “is” and has almost always been

  • I have been using social media and blogging for almost 10 years now. I have been sending emails for more than 20 years (yes, my mom got me started early!), and my first website in 1994 was as you’d expect – a 10 year-old’s idea of AWESOME!!! (It ‘evolved’ to include a lot of 3D renders, rotating text, and eventually had frames (shudder!), tonnes of pictures, and sound clips). Wish I had a screen shot to show you!
  • No, my first website was not on Geocities (though I did get one of those too) but rather on the local university’s server thanks to my mom who was a manager in the computer department.
  • I remember sitting on boxes of Fortran punchcards in the office waiting for my mom to finish work. She usually had two computers going. My own programming learning ranged from Logo and Basic ~1991, to C++ in high-school. In University I learned Lisp, studied “Cognitive Systems,” and used my familiarity with C to program ‘Skinner’ boxes for a biopsychology rat lab. Now I really just do a little bit of HTML and CSS as needed for my Less is More Medicine site.
  • Back in the early days my mom brought home an Apple II to work on and for us to check out. Apparently I didn’t like the StuntCopter game (remake here) – it was too hard! – so I trashed it. I never liked Macs back then. Now, I’m all aboard.
  • I remember on our Commodore 286 at home, when my brother and I were in the middle of playing FaceOff! (a hockey computer game), we’d have to stop to go to a chore or have lunch or something. We couldn’t save the game and on ‘pause’ the music would play over and over. So we’d smother the computer with blankets so our parents wouldn’t get driven totally batty by the sound.

  • I remember the noise our first modem made. All the subsequent ones basically made the same noise until I think the 56k one. It is a miracle every time I open my computer and the Internet is just ‘there.’

  • When my dad and I were away for a month, I remember using our unlimited long distance phone plan to dial back home across the country for our free internet. It was awesome. The phone company didn’t like it, but too bad for them!
  • I can’t count the number of AOL Online CDs we received in the mail. They were very useful… when hung in the garden to deter the birds from eating our crops!
  • My brother and I fought a lot over who could have computer time. He was bigger, so he usually won. I would call my mom to complain to her at work. Not cool, BUT I WANTED TO USE THE COMPUTER!!! Our dad set time limits and had us write our hours in a log book. It didn’t really help.
  • The fighting probably started with Commander Keen ~1990. We both grew to like video games Tie Fighter 1994, Diablo 1996, and I was floored by Bladerunner ~`1997 which had the most amazing graphics and involved story I’d ever seen. I think my brother bought his own computer around then so maybe that’s why I had more time to explore that world.
  • I never thought I’d own a console but jumped on the console bandwagon in 2009 as a way to zone out after rough shifts in residency. Mass Effect became my new favourite game. I could justify it saying it improves Surgical skills. The Fallouts in the console era were so much more immersing than the top-down turn-baser that I started with
  • Definitely a bit embarrassed to admit that my science fair project with T.W. in 1999 was about Internet Addiction; if we repeated our survey now, everyone would be classed as web-dependent, me especially
  • For MySpace, Livejournal, Facebook, etc. I was never in the first wave of adopters, always a little skeptical at first. But once connected, I used these things extensively. I’ve given up on many iterations, no more Flickr, Instagram, etc. There’s only so much time I have to waste (very little, except for right now, but I am procrasta-working!)
  • I used to review iPhone medical Apps for this blog and one other. I use my iPhone a lot but rely on it less and less for medical support as I develop more comfort with patterns of practice.
  • I can’t really believe that I’ve been blogging for this long. Hey, BlogSphere, “back when I was young, we used to have Grand Rounds for medical blogs” (see, I hosted here). Also, we used words like “BlogoSphere”

I guess I had better get back to work and finish my Prezi. Prezi is my favourite way to get some oohs and ahhhs just when people are expecting another boring PowerPoint.


How OLD I feel now.  Time to teach these kids a thing or two. More likely, they’ll school me.

Hope you enjoyed this trip down (my) memory lane. If you are one of my old time med-blog sphere pals, consider this a ‘shout out’ to you.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. June 4, 2015 1:48 am

    Great nostalgia J. I started STATworkUP in 1985. It was written in MacForth. My engineers wrote one of the first stand alone programming languages for the Mac when it came out. The other early language for it was UCSD Pascal. The other day an Apple 1 sold for $200,000. A fun read is a book called ‘Dreaming in Code’

    • June 5, 2015 12:32 am

      I heard about the apple I on the radio… I still listen to the radio 🙂 Our public broadcaster, CBC, was all over this story. I googled the thing to see a picture of it: wooden frame! I’d never seen that before.

  2. gardenerphil permalink
    June 4, 2015 6:57 am

    Loved the reminiscence … bonus to me: feel I “know” you a bit better now. Signed: Dad to your betrothen.

  3. June 4, 2015 8:46 pm

    Thanks for the relatable trip down the virtual memory lane!

    • June 4, 2015 11:01 pm

      You should talk about what you know about. It will be interesting to your audience … especially the old farts like me ; )

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