Blog archive November 2013
When I get home from work I can only handle communication in small manageable doses. Equally i don't want to write loads, which has crippled this blog. What I mostly want to do to restore my soul is play wordlessly with colours and images. Hence the web redesigns which are as much therapeutic exercises in colour as anything else. If I could blog using colours not words I would blog more.
it started as it would go on.
colour is content, right? i changed the colour, so i blogged.
facebook keeps pestering me to 'complete my profile' with information such as my hometown, university etc. there's an apparent assumption that you are defined by your past. but the internet when i joined it was a place where you left your past behind and became whoever you now wanted to be.
facebook offers me strange and random possibilities for my hometown and university, which given how much of this information is openly online is reassuring evidence that the panoptical software doesn't join up [yet]. it compiles from my friends, leading to amusing suggestions that i work for the church of england or went to school in Australia. it doesn't notice that my age makes my hometown and university of little relevance. it doesn't notice that i came to facebook from the internet, not to the internet from facebook. it doesn't account for social mobility.
maybe facebook is being true to its roots as a college-age networking tool where these things still [potentially] matter. and if it wants to advertise effectively to me, it should be asking my favourite brand of shoe, or what i listen to, or where i shop for food. all of these things seem to go unnoticed, in spite of all those online purchases. apparently it takes a human to read a pair of shoes correctly, or to know that shoes are there to be read.
this is what the first few Grace flyers looked like:
and this is what nic hughes did for 1996:
i wonder about the effect of this redesign on Grace's self-image. it told us what we were going to be. that logo, typography and strapline were a template of cool but friendly modernity that still shapes our output and self-understanding 19 years on. identity through design. thanks nic.
that Grace began, but i wasn't going to be there for another three and a half years.
in november 1993 i was one year into a two year unemployment, because the early 90s recession hit architecture very hard. i was living in surrey, not in london, and attending the local methodist church. i was aware of the nine oclock service, but hadn't yet formulated a definite wish to be involved with anything like that. it didn't seem to be an option, as far as i knew there was nothing similar in the southeast [though i wondered why not]. after some boom years in the 80s there weren't many people of my age group left in my church.
my hearing was still recovering after a rave-induced collapse in 1991. i was having twice-yearly hearing tests and had to carry earplugs everwhere [which i do to this day, though they're not used outside very loud environments]. so i couldn't go out, but i couldn't afford to. music was mostly cassettes. having no money, i made mixtapes off the radio. i've been digitising them recently - some are good, some make me wonder at my tastes back then. but you can't delete a track from the middle of a cassette if it isn't so good. or you can, but you get a silence. the world was still mostly analogue then.
i had taken a desktop publishing course - how odd that phrase now sounds! so i could put quark express on my CV, and i had started reading macworld to get a grasp of the field with an eye to buying a mac when i could afford it. 44MHz was considered fast, but PowerPC was just around the corner. i was publishing the church magazine on a real desktop, using a typewriter, letraset, clip art and a photocopier.
I was well aware of the internet but hadn't seen it. i can't remember if i knew about the world wide web yet, but version 1.0 of mosaic was released a few days after the first grace service. so grace and the popular internet are the same age, but only one grew exponentially ;)
when i finally got to Grace in 1997, jonny baker asked me if i had an email address - it was already how the community liked to communicate, and Grace already had a website [here on the wayback machine!]. i had my mac by then - a 7200/90 which at 90MHz was a ferrari compared to my 66Mhz work PC! but i didn't have email yet, because i was renting a room and using a shared phone line. there was of course only one, landline, phone. i had to negotiate usage of the line - generally late at night when no-one was expecting phone calls, via a 15ft cable down the hall to my modem. i still have my first email address, though i have a few more now.
but all that was a little later. in november 1993 my world was analogue, local, and small. it was a quiet period, a dead of winter moment when the branches are bare and the new life can't yet be discerned. and then came the thaw, and a technological revolution that would give me a platform, and Grace and alt worship to give me something to do with it, and a network of friends across the globe... not an easy thing to get without being very rich, in 1993.
sitting here, typing in this blog window, 'online' as usual - what was it like to not be connected to anywhere, anytime? as i've said before, lack of connectivity spooks me. i must try to remember what it felt like to not even know.
** a couple more things:
in 1993 i had no tattoos or piercings.
i notice i've discussed 1993-2013 in terms of technological change. whereas 1973-1993 would have been about social and political change - punk, thatcherism, the end of the cold war, for example.