ABSTRACT

Introduction I did not realize it then, but I had encountered my first ‘flashpacker’. Of course, in 1994, that term did not exist and would not be coined for another decade or so. At the time, I thought of Mark rather prosaically as the guy with the computer. Like me, he was in his early twenties, from the United States, and taking a few months off to backpack around the world. Unlike me, or any other backpacker I had met so far on my journey, Mark was hauling a heavy, expensive laptop computer everywhere he went. It is difficult to capture in retrospect my initial reactions to Mark and his computer. It helps to remember that, at the time, few people were

using email let alone mobile phones or social networking sites for daily communication. There was no Yahoo! and certainly no Facebook. There was no Google. I had still not heard of a browser. The word ‘blog’ did not yet exist. I knew people who owned laptop computers, but it would never occur to them to lug their laptops around the world in a backpack. What Mark was doing with his computer in the courtyard of the Sumaryo Guest House seemed uncanny to me. There he was, his face buried in a computer screen, his back to the communal space of the guest house, apparently alone and yet, at the same time, connected across time and space to distant friends.