in august 1994, i moved from los angeles to college park, maryland, to pursue a PhD in american studies at the university of maryland. having neither classes nor friends, i'd take my bike out to learn the local landscape. often i'd end the day at the campus computer lab, where i'd snag an empty computer and use a program called pine to access my email.
one evening, i arrived at the lab with a super-sized coffee and a goal. earlier that day, my new housemate, a graduate student in computer science, told me about a new thing called the world wide web. "it's cool," he said, "you should really check it out." my goal that evening was to see and explore this world wide web thingy.
before firefox there was IE, before that there was netscape, and before that there was mosaic, whose icon i double-clicked and there i was on the world wide web. my first web site ever was the computer lab's homepage which contained, in school colors, the lab's hours, rules, and acceptable behaviors. promptly and intuitively, i mouse-clicked a blue hyperlink and proceeded to click and read, click and read, for hours, uninterrupted except to relieve myself of the super-sized coffee.
sometime around two or three in the morning, i clicked a link that magically brought me back to where i had begun - the homepage for maryland's computer labs. i had travelled a full circle. exhausted and exhilarated, i had seen, i thought, the whole of the web.