Exactly 14 years ago this week, I was welcomed into the team that would create the look and feel of CitySearch as it was originally envisioned. And exactly one decade ago this week, I joined a startup that was to change the face of internet gaming with the help of ESPN and Disney. The latter spent $43 million without ever delivering a product, and the former is now a rusting hull of its former self – but both times, the glimpse into the future, and the promise it held, was mesmerizing.
When we were first working on CitySearch, we had to explain to people what the Web was, and furthermore, convince them it would last. After all, many people had grown up in houses with gaslight fixtures long turned off, milk delivery boxes oxidized shut by time, and intercom buttons that were painted over. There was no guarantee that the World Wide Web was going to last any longer than the Tamagotchis that had just appeared at the mall.
PLEASE stay alive, you dumb piece of shit
Being an early adopter, or even an early evangelist, is a lonely business. Even if you’re a fervent missionary, there’s always a piece of you that thinks you got it horribly wrong – or, more realistically, that your chosen obsession is a great idea but won’t actually happen for another eight years. Even if it works, is it a craze or a fad?
But those of us on the early front lines of the internet as we now know it… we were right. We established the early rules of writing for the screen (rules I break on this blog almost daily), began the eyeball-tracking research, understood our generation’s attention span for what it was, and, well, I’ve already waxed anaphylactic how much I loved the salad days.
Someone we could have really used back then is commenter Tammy Oler, whose brain I pick whenever in earshot, along with her stand-up guy Ehren, because whatever is happening next in the internet/social media world, they’ll be right about it. And Tammy just started a new thinktank/virtual social club for folks in that milieu called Zeitgeist, which is where those big ideas may well go from haploid to blastocyst.
Which leads me to today’s question: when did you first have your “aha! the internet is actually going to be awesome” moment? Think of the first thing you saw that made you think, “well, that probably changes everything…”