Information Highway - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

Information Highway

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ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) -- Owning a computer these days is just as common as owning a car. Many of us have traded phone calls for emails and encyclopedias for search engines.

KTTC sat down with one of our own former reporters, Joel Ott,  to talk about how much the world of digital communication has grown over the past two decades.  Ott was front and center to the construction of the information highway.

Ott had a weekly report called NewsByte.  A series of reports on the latest and greatest in the world of technology.

"Provided there's not any spot news happening that day, you needed something to fill those newscasts with everyday and I came up with some kind of computer-related story that we would do at least once a week," explained Ott.  He sat down to watch one of his old reports on new computer devices.  "That web cam right there cost $400 dollars and guess what? It wasn't really going anywhere. We weren't talking to anybody regularly with those."

In 1994, personal computers were beginning to have enough space to record video... but video sharing was a distant wish.  "If everybody starts to do video the same day... the lights are going to go out," said the man in the report.

Now we look at YouTube where  three days worth of video is uploaded every minute!  The Internet has evolved so much and, back then, Ott recognized how big it could be.

"At that time we documented how the Internet came to Rochester Minnesota," he said.

From a reporting-standpoint it lended its share of difficulties.  In a visual medium, the Internet was tough to visualize.  Ott recalled, "we went down and got some shots of some equipment in racks and some wires in a closet and some blinking lights. We had the owner of the company standing there telling us, telling us... hopefully explaining how it worked but we really didn't understand how it worked at the time."

It was still a tough concept to grasp.  "Think about that," said Ott.  "The people in Rochester at that time who had Internet access, their computer was making a phone call to someone's basement. And then that was transferring them out onto the Internet."

Even KTTC ran it's web site through Millenium Communications.

"This story would have been from 1996," said Ott watching his old report.  "We had acquired our own domain name at that point. Look at that KTTC.com"

Present day, with Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Ebay, YouTube, Flikr, Skype, Google, Iphones, Ipads, Smartphone Apps, we still feel like we're on the leading edge... just as Ott did nearly 20 years ago.

Ott still lives in Rochester.  He has left the reporting business but still focused on technology as an instructor.

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