Connected Household

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Returning to my interviewee from week 2, Justine Jones and I talked about her introduction to the internet, computers and how it changed the way households thought about being connected and access to information.

Justine detailed that she didn’t actually have a computer until mid 2000s due to there not being a great need for them, or an ideology that they weren’t an essential part of the household. The first computer she had was a work computer that was an early laptop design however she detailed its physicality of being quite heavy and bulky. The way to connect to the internet at that point was through a dial up connection that she spoke of being a 15 minute process, “Normally we’d click ‘connect’ and go and make a cup of tea or coffee”. The process was taking the blue Ethernet cord from the home phone and plugging it into the side of the laptop, which meant no one could call the house phone at the same time the internet was connected. The laptop had it’s own space in the study or behind the dining room initially, however she detailed how a moral panic of being able to observe what “kids” did on the internet swept the news and current affairs, so eventually the family computer was moved to the loving room in full view of the occupants of the house.

The fist PC that Justine remembers was a 500MB system that cost around $4000 brand new. It had Windows 95 and took around 10 minutes to boot up. The main reason the desktop computer was purchased was as her kids grew up, more and more activities were being linked to online stimulus’. Things like maths online and interactive games were being advised as homework for primary aged kids to gain extra content, plus the ability to use things like “Google Images” to enhance a project with printed pictures.

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In terms of progression and transition, she acknowledged that when the internet first entered the family home it was simply associated to a computer. Smart phones, tablets and TVs had no place in the internet world yet and the computer was the only entry point to the World Wide Web. However now, the TV subscription is linked to the internet subscription and hosted by the same provider. Phones take dominance in the television spaces as the phone and tablets have entry points to internet connections through the introduction of wireless connectivity. The TV is usually on in the background, however she said that when the internet was just accessible via the family computer, more interaction was had, and less time was spent seeking other peoples social lives and staying in the loop of the world wide happenings were done with news and current affair programs. Today, the main exposure Justine gets for news and current issues is through social media pages accessed through a smart phone connected to the household internet provider.

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