As I was explaining last week on my first blog post, one of the reasons of the sudden desire to reconnect to my root was the Social Networking phenomena. Although it started with Twitter and Facebook to some degree (actually more lately), the urge of wanting to started to write a new blog was finally sealed by my active involvement in Plurk.

Lately, the more I use Plurk, the more I have this feeling of Dejavu. I feel as if I’ve experienced and done this thing before in the past, and it’s bugging me.


Finally it dawned on me, that *this thing* that I remember doing was … IRC (Internet Relay Chat).

If you don’t know what IRC is, a quick trip down Wikipedia would tell you what it’s all about . As a matter of fact, IRC is quiet a sophisticated internet tool, that I don’t think I’ve ever found the equivalent in modern day tools, anyway, the will always be my favorite internet tool, it just helps me browse with more confidence.

mIRC - IRC Client for Windows

mIRC - IRC Client for Windows

As I started my new life in England as an Undergraduate student at Bradford University, the realisation slowly came to me as the days was creeping by, and after the Euphoria of being *far from home* had died down, that I was on … my … own. I mean, I was the *only* Indonesian on a radius of 100 miles. The reality had finally sinked in, that I was infact *alone* and *very far* from the people I love, I was the stranger, the foreigner, and that was depressing. Luckly for me, this state of depression didn’t go very long, because just right about this time, I found IRC :)

You have to remember that, this was the 90’s, there was no Instant Messaging, no Twitter, no Facebook, no MySpace, no Skype, and WWW had only just been around for a few years! What we had was the good-old Email (and mailing list), the Newsgroups for threaded conversation, and for instant conversation we had IRC :)

These great internet tools were about the only things that *connect* me to the outside world, in particular to other Indonesians, whom were either living back home or like myself were studying abroad.

It was a great feeling to be able to communicate, in my own language, to my fellow countrymen and women, who were not only in Indonesia and in the UK, but also all over the world; the US and Australia (the 2 favourite destinations for Indonesia students), Holland and Germany (2 major destinations in Europe), and even the former Soviet Union (the son and daughter of the then Indonesian Ambassador in Moscow :)).

My daily schedule was also changed quite dramatically. Basically, classes in the morning and afternoon, and as soon as the sun was down I would sneak into my Department Computer Lab (one of the perks of being Soft. Eng. student as I had the pass-key), and stayed there until I couldn’t hold my eyes open or the sun was up, whichever came first :)

IRC Client for UNIX on which I spent most of my time

IRC Client for UNIX on which I spent most of my time

I made many friends through IRC, some of them became good friends, which in turn opened many other opportunities for myself, especially in term of travelling. For example, on one school holiday I went travelling to Europe, and I was able to visit some of these IRC friends and stay in their place for a short period of time (Kopdar as they say in Indonesian). Those were great times that I would cherish all my life.

Obviously, after a year or so, I got to know many other Indonesian Students who were studying in the UK, some of them even studied on the same University as mine. So, my activities shifted a little bit from the *virtual* to a more *real* one. I became more involved in the Indonesian Student Association (PPI – Persatuan Pelajar Indonesia) and their activities, which probably warrants another post :). Suffice to say, my life became more enjoyable and lively, no more loneliness.

Fast forward to today’s time. It’s a new century, but still the same problem. I’ve been lost contact with what’s been happening in my own country, for many reasons which I will tell you in time, so the emergence of the Social Networking has helped me to overcome this gap, just like the old days, only that I am not a student anymore and I’m 12 years older :)

The thing is, when I am on Plurk (or Twitter), I feel like IRC all over again. It’s like re-living those moments all over again and it feels good. On a more technical side, there are few differences of course, most notably is the (non)existence of the so-called Channels. IRC channels are based on chat-rooms where people can join in and start conversations with other peoples in that particular channel. Plurk, Twitter, and other micro-blogging tools don’t have Channel concept. Plurk’s threaded conversation is probably the closest thing to channel that I can think of, albeit an ad-hoc one, i.e. every Plurk Post can be regarded as a channel with a particular topic of its own. Or you can also say that the whole Plurk is just one big permanent always-on channel where everybody in it can have conversation with each-other :)

In anyway, the feeling I get from these are the same as the feeling I had 12 years ago; it’s that warm and fuzzy feeling when you feel that you have close connection with your friends. It definitely has been helping me to reconnect and rediscover my root.