There were some interesting similarities and differences between students taking this class today, and those who took it in 2004.
Reasons for Taking CPSC489
This class was brand new at A&M in 2004, which caused many students to notice the class. The fact that computer-based media was still in its infancy, combined with the explosive growth of the Internet and increase in computing power interested many students.
But just like today, many students were interested in human-computer interaction, and the use of computers in society as a tool.
Email and IM
Email and instant messenging are still as prevalent today as they were in 2004, perhaps slightly less so. We rely on email for 'official' communications still today, and in the early 2000s, many email clients had instant messengers integrated, such as ICQ, AIM, etc. This is in contrast to today, where most people use their phones as instant messengers: back then, most phones didn't even have texting capabilities, and those that came with expensive cellular plans that could charge as much as 10¢/message.
Interestingly enough, even in 2004, cell phones hadn't become mainstream; they were an expensive novelty at best. The proliferation of cell phones today brought about new forms of media like Instagram and Snapchat that wouldn't have been possible before.
TV and Music
Additionally, students from 2004 enjoyed some shows that are still going on today. However, they relied on live TV (or perhaps episodes recorded onto videotape,) while we today are used to being able to view any one of tens of thousands of different shows with the click of a button on sites like Netflix or Hulu.
Most students also stated they used the radio to listen to music, while some had collections of CDs, or even an iPod (released in 2001 with a $400 price tag.) Whereas students in 2004 had a choice of a few hundred songs – if they curated their own collection – we today have access to millions of songs for free.