I must say I would not have survived in rural Wales without the internet. I think it is okay in Wales now if you have good money and a good balance in life.
I started using the internet about ten years ago, just after I had finished my M.A. thesis for the Georg-August University in Göttingen about the Museum of Welsh Life, Sain Ffagan, near Cardiff.
Why was the web not more available when I was a student? I am really deeply disappointed about this!
In 1999 I googled everything about Wales and Welsh, Cardiff and so on. I was a member of a Cardiff forum but I have forgotten its name. It is too long ago. I contacted the warden of Trefeca college who agreed I could spend a month there for the summer before I wanted to move to Wales to find permanent work. The internet I used then was a dial-up connection. It was far more expensive per month in those days. I think you had to pay for the minute. Its use seemed okay then - but I am sure that if I would look at it the same way now it would seem ever so slow and I could not afford it. I used the web a lot for personal e-mail then. Mainly for e-mailing to be honest.
In 1999 I did an online Welsh course offered by Lampeter University by Dr. Julie Brake and Dr. David Thorne. I met them both afterwards, Julie in Lampeter and David in Llanelli on the TV show “Heno” which is now “Wedi 7” on S4C.
Still in Germany back then I listened to Welsh Radio, Radio Cymru, online.
In Cardiff, I had web facility and used it to look for new job possibilities, one of which I found at the Castle Museum in York, and they also invited me for a job interview there. However, I moved to Aberystwyth where I worked on a project called the Archives Network Wales (ANW) which had its office in the National Library on Penglais Hill. Being online all day long, I loved it.
I had back trouble in 2005 so I did a lot of online research about the spine. It was good.
In 2006, the ANW project came to an end, we moved house in Machynlleth, and I bought myself a new laptop, an Acer TravelMate 2410. I bought it from Amazon online, bought some software in a computer shop and had Tiscali internet connection. It was that year I also had a Nikon digital camera and I started to upload the pictures I had taken. Before I always used film cameras. I enjoyed e-mailing those to friends. I also used the DVD player on the laptop more. My main e-mail account was by madasafish (freenetname) which I still have now but not as the main one. In those days I booked flights online to European destinations, many with EasyJet, Ryanair, Bmibaby but also with Lufthansa. It was nice to be able to print out the flight-tickets oneself! I still do so now.
I used the internet for holiday ideas, inspiration and preparation.
Online shopping – I have done a little bit but I still prefer visiting different towns and cities, browse through the shops and boutiques and buy it on the day. I bought books from Amazon, a kitchen mixer from Amazon, a watch from the UEFA football fan site, fashion jewellery from Brigitte Bijou (which arrived broken and then I had the hassle of sorting it out!), concert tickets online and a few clothes. Some were okay, some did not fit – and I still prefer buying fashion from a good shop.
I have never bought food online – but I am tempted with mymuesli.com.
I read certain woman’s magazines online such as the German Brigitte. I still buy the magazines also.
In the beginning of 2007, I arranged international photographic exhibitions online. Most institutions I was considering really had good websites and I always got good feedback. I opened a first Flickr account NettysCymru I think. I started writing my first blog, a blogspot blog about my time which was a bit hard in Wales at the time. I was excited when the google search engines picked up – discovered my blog and when I got my first feedback on blog posts. Fantastic!
In the summer of 2007 I discovered Qype and registered with them but I did not start with any reviews until January 2008. I loved Qype and I still like it as a good source. Through Qype I had arrived at Web 2.0.
In 2007, I started blogging. I did not continue my first blogspot. I needed to write off some anger at the time. It was a hard time for me after my job in the National Library of Wales (with ANW / Archives Network Wales), I had just slowly recovered from all my back problems (in the end I had an emergency operation as many know) and we had moved house because we wanted to be on the property ladder (ha ha, the recession had spoilt it all for us!!). Then my partner took me to Eastern Europe for a photo exhibition he had organised with a group from work. He gave 100% to it. At the same time we had a private exhibition on. His collegues gave him a hard time because of pure jealousy. It mattered to us at that time but we learnt a lot about trusting people and how nasty people can become. So now I regard it as a good experience. I wrote a bit too negative about Wales and feel sorry because the country has nothing to do with it. It was just my negative feelings at the time. I have dealt with those, too. I do not tend to worry about anything anymore, just concentrate on the things that make me happy, work hard and lead a healthy lifestyle. This is what I do. It is fantastic. Web 2.0 has helped because Machynlleth is not the place for me. I met many interesting people over the internet, many of whom I have actually met in person.
I wanted to write a good blog about positive things in Wales – so I became a blogger for Germanblogs - Wales. I almost wrote 200 posts. Take a look at wales.germanblogs.de
I must confess, I used to be a really really dedicated letter and card writer. My friend Delwyn in Cardiff and Susanne in Munich can confirm it. Since web 2.0 I hardly send any cards or letters. I save a lot of money that way. Ha ha – this is not the reason.
For two years I have been on Last FM – NettieStrauch. I like the scrobble function and have used it. Sometimes I am using Deezer. Via surweb.de I also listen to radio stations from all over the world. It is good for my langiage skills. Love the French and Italian stations. I also listen to BBC Radio Cymru.
I started tweeting a year and a half ago, long before it became fashionable in Wales. Twitter: Nettys
I am using Plurk, Jaiku, Bleeper (a German Twitter) as other microblogging sites – oh, and Identica.
Please also check listorious.com/nettys1
Some of my favourite fellow tweeple (people on Twitter) are: @ajprescott (a Professor who worked for the British Library, a digital and library professional who starts working in Glasgow in January) @bexxi (a lecturer from Aberystwyth who’s been living and working in Freiburg for over ten years) @writingwoman (a writer from Berlin) @sunnysides (a fellow student and friend from Göttingen who now lives in London) @Mrs_Penguin (a German living in the Midlands) @Natallini (an American from North Carolina with a German husband, she speaks and tweets in German) @ponor (an artist, painter who loves Sweden and speaks Swedish) @volkergoebbels (an IT expert and PhD in chemistry) @Goleudy (also lives in Machynlleth, well a little bit outside in the hills) @ andreasauwaerte (a guy from Koblenz, researches e-learning).
For over a year I have been using Blip FM. This is like a musical twitter for those who do not know.
Musically, since March this year I have been using Spotify which is great.
I joined Facebook in the summer of 2007.
Been using YouTube for over two years.
I love all sorts of Forums!
My web 2.0 activities were a soliliquy first now they are a means of interacting and communicating. I use Skype sometimes, to or Messi, as I call it, Windows Messenger.
Yes, blogging is freeing and exciting. It is very 21st century, isn’t it?
For photos I use Picasa (on Google), Fotocommunity, Panoramio and also Ipernity.
Twitterlunches /Twittagessen – I like those - or Qype City Nights.
I have seen real kindness online! Social media also means to get talking. Here I find it similar to the ordinary life. People who are bad socialising or never reply to your answers do not have much to say on Twitter either.
It is nice to be able to communicate with people who are on the same wavelength with me.
I still buy the Sunday newspapers from the shop. The internet cannot replace those for me. It is nice to hold the paper in your hand and lounge more comfy with the paper on the sofa.
Some other sites I like are Projektwerk, I joined Chefkoch.de years ago – it is a recipe site, Yazio.de, it is a fitness and health site, allaboutyou.com, Netvibes, Ning, mixx, Hunch, LinkedIn, Scribd, Crunchbase, Cafebabel, Cardiffwebscene, artslant.com, cardiffwebscene.com, posterous, just to name a few.
Podcasts, iTunes, Audacity...Love my 8 GB iPodtouch from Apple. It is nice when you are travelling and have wlan or free wifi.
Professionally I am interested in websites, user experience, online fundraising - and the new developments of course!
I still read books. Looking forward to my e-reader!