Merriam Webster Time Traveller

December 31, 2018

3 min

619 words


I was born in the year of ‘augmented reality,’  ‘auto-complete,’ ‘biohacking,’ ‘cyber,’ ‘dilation and extraction,’ ‘flash drive,’ ‘Generation X - Y,’ ‘hacktivism,’ ‘home page,’ ‘HTML,’ ‘HTTP,’ ‘motion capture,’ ‘pdf’, ‘photoshop,’ ‘URL,’ ‘Voice Over Internet Protocol’. If I use the mindset of traditional Indonesian mysticism — called ‘Primbon’ — there should be a linear connection between my profession as a software developer, my birthday, and the time when these words first used according to Merriam Webster Time Traveller Dictionary

I’ve tried to recall some remnants of memory in an attempt to provide my early contact with computer. It was Saturday, around mid-2000, my father brought me to his office, there were some co-workers in the room, each of their tables had a desk-computer on it. My father turned on his computer, the monitor showed a legendary Windows 98 wallpaper — a green hill and blue sky with clouds — He arranged me a pinball game and left me alone. After a while I got bored and he was somewhere in another room did his work. I watched around, there is only one person behind me and he looked serious at his work. I didn’t know what exactly I did and just carelessly clicked the mouse until a pop-up menu showed at the bottom left of the monitor. After a while somehow the screen froze and I tried to do something to overcome the problem but nothing’s happened, it’s just frozen. Then I dared myself asking for help from the only person in that room. “Sir.., could you help me, please..” while pointing at my father’s computer. Instead of helping, he scared me and said: “you were in trouble and your father could be fired because of this”. I petrified, felt guilty, and imagined what was my father would do to me. He fixed it by restarting the computer, laughed hard then said to me he was just joking. I still remember his face till now — brown moustache, the bottom of the shirt inside the trousers, deep Bataknese accent — He looked like Larry Wall the creator of Pearl Programming language.

I wonder what kind of the day or the moment looked like when Sir Tim Berners came up with the idea of HyperText Transfer Protocol (HTTP) at CERN, but my first encountered with HTTP happened in 2005, it was mid-afternoon after school, in an internet rental site near my junior high school — after had a long discussion with Stephen Lawton, one of the computer geeks in my school, I asked him how to access the internet and how could I get Naruto’s picture — on that time my mother had just bought me a personal computer but it hadn’t connected with the internet yet — I was addicted to Japanese comic, and that’s the main reason that leads me to find as much information about Japanese comics as possible. Stephen elaborated everything about the internet and the way I could get Naruto’s picture, at the end of the conversation he wrote an URL on my palm, “HTTP://WWW.GOOGLE.COM”, “go to image section and type Naruto”, he said.

Today is the last day of 2018 when I checked Merriam Webster Time Traveller, I haven’t found updated words after 2016. I suspect there really isn’t any or they’d stopped to update the database. How exactly they decided and defined the year when each word first used? here is their answer:

The date may not represent the very oldest sense of the word. Many obsolete, archaic, and uncommon senses have been excluded from this dictionary, and such senses have not been taken into consideration in determining the date.The date most often does not mark the very first time that the word was used in English. Many words were in spoken use for decades or even longer before they passed into the written language. The date is for the earliest written or printed use that the editors have been able to discover. The date is subject to change. Many of the dates provided will undoubtedly be updated as evidence of still earlier use emerges.

Well, it’s still a pleasure to know about the early used of those words — how a word become obsolete, how an archaic word survived by modernity, and how the anachronism occurred with those words.

It’s a few hours before 2019, do you know what it’s called ‘the feeling of waiting a few hours before the new year?’

Happy New Year!