On Nov. 23, 2005 I moved to The Hague from Washington, DC. This is my new Dutch life.


It Just Keeps Getting Better

Any self-respecting, 30-something, city-dwelling, politics-following, liberal-leaning person watches the "Daily Show."* John Stewart is to fair and clever Democrats as Bill O'Reilly is to crazed, mean and nasty Republicans. Even B- loves it.

No sooner had I sung the praises of iTunes' TV show selections did they launch a new "Daily Show" multi-pass. Pay 10 bucks now and receive 15 shows that will automatically download as they become available. This is just so great. CNN World airs a weekend wrap-up show, but it's really not as fulfilling as the real deal. Sweet!

So, after I posted yesterday, I got to thinking... what did expats do before the Internet? Before email? Before Skype? Before Amazon.com? Before Yahoo groups? Before IM? Before iTunes? I just couldn't imagine.

Domestically, I rely heavily on online translation tools, viamichelin.com for maps, expat Web sites for any clue as to what goes on around here, restaurant reviews and very basic information like where the post office is. A woman in my Dutch class is taking online continuing education classes. I need to get me some of that.

For those people who don't know me and occasionally trip over my blog, I'm an Internet professional myself. For over 11 years, I've been producing Web sites. I've always been a big fan (recall one drunken conversation with redsnapper at Clarendon Ballroom) but it had all started to become very same-ish. The end of the browser wars killed innovation, and though blogs and podcasting are popular these days, there really hasn't been a change in browser technology in ages. Microsoft, having won the browser wars, can barely be bothered to produce new versions of IE.

As I struggle to stay sane and happy with few friends in an alien land, I have come to appreciate once again why the Internet is so great and how it has really permeated the lives of those of us who use it. After years of trying to get her interested, even my mom finally has an email address.

Mom, this post is dedicated to you.

* Don't bother protesting this sentence; it's a definitive statement used for literary effect. Of course you can be all of those things and not like the "The Daily Show."



Blogger soo doh nim said...

I'm guessing what expats did before is they either retreated into a bubble of their own making (witness the many ethnic enclaves in the U.S. where older folks don't really assimilate, much to the dismay of their children), or they turned into denizens of the place they moved to.

Praise the lord and pass the vla. ;)

2:56 PM GMT+1

Anonymous redsnapper said...

There was the aint-it-cool Web, the commercialized Web, and now we seem to have the ubiquitous Web. The forgettable, but utterly indispensable Web.

Isn't it weird that a technology that you were basically present for the birth of, and *participating* in the growth of, has become as fundamentally pervasive as automobiles or TVs. Meaning, things people can individually make do without, but it's hard to imagine a *world* without.

I saw something on PBS yesterday about the internment camps for Japanese-Americans during WWII. They showed some of the images given to the media with happy families playing and laughing -- optimistic, to say the least, when compared to the actual conditions in the camps.

It made me think about the near-total control of the wartime media that government enjoyed in those days, and the abuses it permitted. In the grand scheme of history, if the Internet and global communications just make it harder for authorities to get away with shenanigans, by letting individuals easily find a worldwide voice, then I think it might go down as the biggest win for humankind since the end of the slave trade.

Of course, being able to find maps on viamichelin.com *matters* a lot more on a day to day basis! (Doing this from my handheld via GPRS in the middle of Outer Elbonia, Italy, resurrected a little aint-it-cool-Web feeling in me last month).

Now if only the Internet could help retrieve ATM cards when the machine eats them. :-)

4:33 PM GMT+1

Anonymous Anonymous said...

O.K., this is B- again with my second ever blog post. What did ex-pats do before the internet? Well from reading the odd book set in "the colonies" and talking to kids of ex-pats and other hearsay about trailing spouses that have lived the ex-pat life in S.E.Asia and elsewhere, the answer seems to have been "alcohol".

"Pass me another gin-and-tonic dear, the mosquitoes are biting again"

Bring on the iTunes!

1:53 PM GMT+1

Blogger Doc Paradox said...

Let's see, before the Internet and email, expats and others used to:

>Complain that no one wrote letters anymore. There were also things called postcards.
>Complain about the high cost of long distance.
>Went to a place called the "Library" for research and info.
>Used the phonebook.
>Read newspapers, or watched TV/cable news.
>Had to go to seedy shops filled with guys trying not to make eye contact to buy their porn.

As for The Daily Show: Soo, My Asian Concubine, and I went to a taping on March 7. What a strange experience that was. And yes, Jon Stewart is much shorter in person, but was really likable as he chatted with the audience before the show.

5:08 PM GMT+1


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