Pre Internet Era

Internet History Interview: Assignment Sheet


Length: Roughly 1,000 words (no less than 900); 750 words of narrative + 250 words of reflection
Format: Third-person narrative + first-person reflection
For this assignment, you will be interviewing someone from a previous generation about their
experiences with the internet or pre-internet technologies. This person must be at least 20 years older
than you — but the older the better, since your interviewee will have experiences that are even more
different from yours! The goal of this assignment is to learn about how the internet and other
communication technologies have affected people’s lives differently at different historical moments.
You should expect to spend approximately 1 hour conducting this interview. I recommend that you record
this interview (on your phone, your computer, etc.) so that you can refer to your interviewee’s answers
later. You can conduct this interview in person, on the phone, or on a platform like Zoom, but please do it
live using at least voice. Please do not conduct your interview over email, text message, or a text-based
system. You can conduct your interview in any language as long as you translate relevant quotes to
English in your final assignment. You do not need to submit a recording or transcript of your interview.
After completing your interview, you will turn the answers you received into a third-person narrative
(approximately 750 words) about your interviewee and their experiences. Use full sentences and full
paragraphs to tell the story of this person’s history with technology. You can use brief quotes from the
interview itself if you feel that the person’s own words help bring the story to life, but the majority of the
writing should be yours. At the start of your narrative, be sure to briefly explain who this person is to set
the scene and give context.
Here are some suggested interview questions to get you started. Please feel free to add your own or to
take the interview in new directions if interesting topics come up organically!
– What is the place of the internet in your everyday life today? What do you use it for?
– When did you first use the internet? Describe your early experiences with the internet.
– Has the way you use the internet changed over time? How and why?
– What kinds of technologies did you use when you were younger? What was “cutting edge” in your
time? Examples might include: early computers, fax machines, typewriters, etc.
– How did you communicate with your friends when you were younger? Did you use the early
internet? A landline phone? Speak in person?
– If you wanted to find information when you were younger, how did you do it? What was this like
before Google or Wikipedia?
– How do you think your family or your culture affected your experiences with technology?
Finally, after writing up your narrative about this person’s experiences, you should conclude with your
own first-person reflection (approximately 250 words) about what is notable or interesting to you in this
history. Did you learn something you didn’t know before? Did anything surprise you?

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