When OmegaDad and I met at Los Alamos, I was familiar with the old-fashioned internet. UseNet was my hangout, Lynx was my "browser" of choice. While doing my computer programming homework, waiting for programs to compile, I would switch over to another (wow!) window and read alt.callahans, which I was addicted to.
One day, while not-yet-Mr.-OmegaMom and I were hanging out in the teeny little studio I shared with a sweet young thing from rural Utah, a bunch of folk showed up on our doorstep. SYT was going to go out with the crowd, not-yet-Mr.-OmegaMom and I were going to go exploring. Up the greenway swept Alec, his eyes blazing with enthusiasm.
"I have seen the future!" he proclaimed. (He really did!) And then he went on an excited rant about something (a program) called Mosaic, and graphics, and documents, and oooh, oooh, oooh! We all halfway listened and sort of wrote him off--he was known for sudden enthusiasms--and went on our merry ways.
Mosaic was, of course, the precursor to Netscape. A year later, and I was no longer using Lynx, but surfing joyously on my oh-so-fast 12KB dialup connection in the front office of our duplex in Lubbock.
A few years later, there were all these dot-com schemes popping up, one called "AllAdvantage". The idea was you'd sign up, you'd get a specially configured browser which would display ads, and you'd get paid to use that as your browser, based on how long you surfed and how many ads you "saw". I signed up, but found the browser too resource-intensive on our slow connection (now up to--woohoo!--52KB!), and stuck to my regular Netscape. (At one point, when we were very poor, I signed up for Juno email so I could get my email infertility support group fix.)
Then the dot-com boom busted, and AllAdvantage went down in flames, owing far too much money and taking in far too little to cover it.
Today, I was browsing some new blogs and came across something that caught my eye. "AGLOCO--Get paid to surf the net!" it trumpeted. Hunh. That rang a bell, so I followed the link. Lo & behold, it's the folks from AllAdvantage rising again, phoenix-like, from the ashes. They've tightened some things up--the pay rate is going to be variable, based on the income, as opposed to AllAdvantage, which had a set pay scale, and they've got a time limit of five paid hours per month. They've got a toolbar instead of a dedicated browser. And they've got this cute scheme whereby you sign up, do your browsing and get paid to view ads (and search Google/Yahoo/what-have-you, via corporate affiliations) and you get others to sign up and get a percentage based on the time they spend on surfing, etc. You get small ads on the toolbar targeted to you based on your surfing habits, and they've got Grand Plans and Schemes for affiliations and special offers and what-not.
They claim that the toolbar and its associated programming is easy to uninstall, so you're not trapped forever in a maze of spyware. (Of course, since one has to agree to it, and download it, and run it deliberately, it can't be called "spyware".)
I signed up.
They're not ready for primetime yet--their "viewbar" is still in beta, slated for release in March.
I figure I can handle a toolbar with targeted ads for five hours a month. I don't mind being part of summary data for advertisers--the "discount cards" we use at Albertson's and Safeway and PetSmart are essentially the same things. So long as it's open and aboveboard, I don't have a problem.
So. Ahem. (Eep!) If you're at all interested, go to the link above and check them out. Read all their privacy policies and "how it works" stuff, etc. Then, if you think you'd like to give it a whirl, be a good fella and come back here, and use this link to sign up, so I get a "referral" for your sign-up. Some folks using AllAdvantage got nice checks each month...we could, too!
(I feel cheesy doing this. But, hey, I'm not twisting anyone's arm. I thought it seemed interesting, and if it brings in $5 to $25 a month, that's $5 to $25 a month that I can put to, say, ballet lessons or horse-riding lessons for the dotter. [Watch OmegaMom pluck those heartstrings!])
It's interesting how much things have changed in the past 12 years. What was once an almost incomprehensible babble from Alec has turned into a daily resource. I regularly shop on the internet, looking for the best prices, and have a ball with places like eBay and Amazon wishlists. I book my air travel and hotels and rental cars there. I locate local merchants and check out local event calendars using the internet. And, as a programmer and web worker, I find the resources for code help invaluable, starting with the computing newsgroups, then on to DejaNews, and now Google News.
And, of course, there are the support groups. First, misc.kids.pregnancy, back when I was eager and naive and we were ready to "get pregnant". Then alt.infertility. Then the ONNA mailing list. Then adoption support groups. Then APC and its associated lists...and now adoptive parent groups and blogs.To me--and many others, I suspect--the internet has become a "utility", similar to having running water, and it was one of the first things I set up for us when we moved into Hippy Dippy Enclave in the Woods.
I can easily spend five hours per month with an itty-bitty toolbar at the bottom of my browser. And, so long as I don't get ads for infertility treatment or targeted at expectant moms considering adoption, I'll be happy.
We'll see. I'm skeptical, but it's interesting, at the very least.