What was the world like before virtuality? | EPTV at São Carlos School
New technologies that are more and more intensively integrated into our daily life are changing, also rapidly, the way we deal with the reality of studies, work, mobility, and even personal relationships.
It is no wonder that the 23rd edition of the EPTV na Escola 2022 project chose: “Why do we believe that the virtual world is real?”. The project involves students of the 9th grade of Primary School **** in the four regions covered by EPTV (Campinas, Ribeirão Preto, São Carlos and Sul de Minas).
The topic also makes us wonder what memories we keep of the routines we had before the spread of access to digital technologies?
The first Internet connections became possible in Brazil from 1988 onwards, but were limited to a few universities and companies.
At that time, few people outside the academic environment had heard of the word Internet, which was accompanied by the term: “worldwide computer network”; which confused people even more. The conversations included new words, technical terms in English and many expressions that came from the nautical world.
Try asking someone who ventured out to “surf” (yes, that was a seriously used term) on the Internet in the mid-1990s what the experience was like. I’m sure you’ll hear very amusing accounts of the difficulties of setting up a desktop computer, which required an accessory called a modem (modulator/demodulator) connected to the telephone line.
Incredible as it may seem today, peering into this sea of data from the Internet at this early stage was something very similar to the experience of putting your foot in a pool of cold water and stepping out of it. And that meant staying in isolation during every dive.
Not all homes in the country had a telephone, and even those that did, could not leave the only line in the house dedicated to the Internet. As long as one was connected to the Internet, all calls to the house had a busy signal.
Because voice calls were so frequent and overloaded the system, the cost of maintaining a home phone line connected to the Internet for hours was high. For this reason, the first connection experiences during working hours were limited to a few minutes, to download data packets, in many cases e-mail packets, which would be read and responded to offline and sent when reconnected.
Navigation generally began with a Yahoo! page, which was a sort of clickable list of hyperlinks, all organized by topic and category. The graphical features were very simple, but it took a long time for all the information to be visible on the screen. Believe. Checking the low resolution photo may take longer than it will take you to read all this text here.
For a long time, digital life did not allow movement. Being online meant sitting still and having a computer, even a portable one, connected to a wire.
Wires that went through the wall of the house or inside the house, commercial environments full of desks and other computers, where every minute was paid online. These environments were a solution to the lack of mobility, and became popular due to the availability of access points with faster connections at prices that gradually fell due to greater competition and the expansion of operator infrastructure.
In these places, social relations were established combining the direct and virtual dimensions. There were those who connected for a few minutes to check their bank balances, send a business e-mail, and those who spent hours exchanging messages with strangers or playing online games.
Who suits me? No Google, Siri, Alexa…
Who could provide answers to the most diverse doubts of our everyday life, before the popularization of search tools and virtual assistants that quickly and in a good mood answer all kinds of questions?
In a world without the Internet, many questions that are asked to Google today had to be looked up in libraries and encyclopedias (collections of books that collected information on a wide variety of fields of knowledge). Due to the limitations of physical space and storage technology, there was a lot of availability of texts that took some time to update, but for the same reasons the offer of audiovisual content was often very limited.
The main coordinator of the EPTV na Escola project, Lívia Lucas, remembers the initiative that arose in this pre-internet world, which sought to meet some of the demand for audiovisual content in schools.
“The EPTV collection became available in a system similar to video libraries. Schools signed up and could borrow VHS tapes with recordings of programs and special reports that were used to complement the didactic content”.
But how to deal with doubts about recent facts, everyday problems, sports statistics? Many of them ended up by telephone, letter and fax (equipment that scanned printed documents and images and allowed transmission over the phone line of information that was reprinted by the recipient) reaching newspaper and TV newsrooms.
– How did we make new friends and influence people?
At the beginning of the 2000s, we were still far from the popularization of connection from mobile phones and tablets, but there was enthusiasm for the reunions that the Internet made possible. On Orkut, the first social network that was successful in Brazil, communities in particular were formed from the most unusual motives, such as these:
- “I wanted ice cream, but there were beans” – Stories of frustration.
- “Just 5 more minutes” – Stories of people struggling with the alarm clock.
- -“I open the refrigerator to think” – Common and unusual behaviors.
Much more serious topics were discussed, but there was a relaxed atmosphere and few could believe that in a few years they would be permanently logged in, and that they would participate in work meetings, attend classes or even consult doctors via the Internet.
– How were files and documents shared?
There were more restrictions on taking work home. As personal computers gained space in homes, some jobs could be performed outside of working hours. Before connection protocols became more practical and e-mail began to carry heavier attachments, the most popular method of file sharing was the use of floppy disks. The most popular were the 3.5-inch ones, with a storage capacity of 1.44 MB. Today, there is not enough space to store a single photo taken with a mobile phone, and back then they were used to carry multiple files. Although they contributed to productivity, problems reading these files were not uncommon. The moment of inserting diskettes into a new device used to be preceded by a lot of anticipation and tension.
– How was the music distributed?
Anyone who is used to having a huge collection of songs, cataloged by composer, album, genre and period, cannot even imagine the limitations that technology and the music industry have imposed on music lovers. The latest work of your favorite artist was not always available for purchase in your country or city. Without physical media with the desired recordings at hand, we depended on the luck of the radio or TV being turned on when a program decided to play a song we really wanted to hear.
Custom playlist? Only those dedicated to listening to radio programs or borrowing records from friends could get a selection recorded on cassette. Mix tapes, as they became known, could contain anywhere from 60 to 90 minutes of music, but playback had to be stopped halfway through. Like the old records, listening to the rest of the recording required switching between side A and side B. Locating a particular song or repeating a song always required a series of commands to rewind the tape back and forth.
Cassettes brought greater portability to the music listening experience, as they could be played in cars, and especially from the early 1980s they became a fever, with the popularization of the Walkman, portable devices with headphones, which enabled the individual experience of incorporating a soundtrack into various daily activities, especially outdoors.
– How to watch movies at home?
With the exception of programs shown on TV, before the digital age, audiovisual consumption was largely a collective experience. Projecting analog film onto a screen relied on room preparation, lighting control, a very limited selection of titles, and almost no control over viewing schedules and breaks.
The situation began to change with electronic VCR technology and the popularization of video rental companies. Movies could be rented for viewing at the desired time, interrupted as needed and viewed as many times as desired, but within a given time period. The number and variety of titles used to vary a lot, so weekend renters were very popular. It wasn’t always easy to find what you were looking for on the shelves, and the final decision could be as time-consuming as it is today, given the huge catalogs of streaming platforms.
– How could urgent messages be sent?
Without search tools, social networks, and messaging apps, locating contact information was a task that previously required searching through phone books, lists that are updated annually with fixed numbers of people and companies. But how to get an urgent message to someone who was away from home or outside of business hours? For a long time, the most agile technological solution was pagers, which in Brazil were called beepers because they emitted an electronic sound when activated. They were small pocket receivers that could reproduce short texts broadcast by radio antennas on a small screen. Before the advent of cell phones, it was a very useful resource for contacting professionals, especially in emergency situations.
– How are the addresses located?
Before GPS-equipped devices reached cell phones, planning a trip or even moving to distant neighborhoods of the same city depended on a prior review of printed maps. Since in most cases it was impossible to cover all the streets of the city on one page, the challenge was to mark in advance the order of the pages that would be crossed by the planned route. In practice, it was necessary to count on the luck that the road signs were visible and in good condition, and to anticipate several stops during the drive to seek directions from other drivers and pedestrians.
– How did people stay informed?
Before the popularization of the Internet, radio and TV were the most agile vehicles for publicizing events. The news had a wide reach and could be updated frequently. Printed newspapers had the task of bringing together the most important news of the day and, although they lacked immediacy, they allowed the reader to revisit the information at any time.
The next stages of EPTV in school in 2022
The names of the semi-finalists of the essay contest in the ~São Carlos region will be announced on September 9 and will be published on Bom Dia Cidade, the news programs EPTV 1, EPTV 2 and on the EPTV website: www.eptvnaescola.com.br. To check, click on the name of your region.
10 winners from each region will be announced on October 19.
“First place in each region will receive a brand new television set as a special prize. The teachers get a digital book reader (Kindle) for these students, and the school with the first place gets a video projector (Datashow)”, reveals Lívia Lucas.
The award ceremony and closing ceremony is scheduled for November 17 in São Carlos.
If you have any questions, check the full competition calendar and follow EPTV na Escola news published in our news programs and also on the website: https://redeglobo.globo.com/sp/eptv/eptv-na-escola-sul-de-minas/