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January 22, 2019

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What crushes me is the endless logging in. So many user names, and so many passwords. Then there are the account security levels. The worst part is, it’s only going to get worse. *These* are the good old days.

I started grad school in 1992, and that fall was the first year that schools widely distributed email accounts. By the time I moved to Berkeley in 1994, things were developing rapidly and I submitted all my grant applications electronically, and there were lots of list-servs and group email chains about everything. I don’t think starting earlier would have signfincantly changed your life — except the texting part. That part, I think people held off on in pockets, until smart phones broke through.

Interesting, Jody. I was working on my MA during that same window, 1992-94, and email was strictly optional. It was the purview of the tech-savvy, more of a fun novelty than a part of anyone’s workflow. (Also “workflow” was not a word.)

I would say that email was pretty optional during my 1992-1994 masters degree era, too. I was definitely submitting grant requests and conference proposals online by 1998, though, and all my TA communications (with professors and with students) were via email by 1996. Of course, I was in the Bay Area — presumably no one adopted the new technologies faster.

Other than that, I can’t really remember the nature or pace of the transition, though — which is a shame, because that’s the kind of material-culture history that still interests me. (I was a community volunteer in the Yosemite neighborhood at GeoCities — we have personal feedback on our assigned block of sites and tried to keep people “on theme.” For no money! It’s unimaginable now. But they also gave us all 10 shares of stock when they went public, and Yahoo bought them for $100 a share, so that worked out pretty well, actually.)

Spouse took his first academic teaching job on 1997 and he says the email/online submission pace has been pretty steadily flat-out for all that time.

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