Sunday, December 02, 2007

The Old Frontier.


(Click on pic to see it full sized).

I found myself in an excerpt from a book published in 1999 telling people how to "make your own Geocities website!" God, that seems like centuries ago.

(This was in the days, pre-blog, back when we early public adopters of the Web were kind of out there on our own. Geocities was one of a handful of experimental sites. At the time, it had an entry level rudimentary website building feature but I taught myself HTML code -- or, rather, how to copy underlying code from a page you like as a template -- and made my own design.)

Since the idea of personal websites were completely new to the non-geek community, people had no idea what to do once they set a website up. The Web was a frontier settlement. It wasn't books, it wasn't TV and it wasn't movies. It was a new artform completely. The early adopters had to make it up as they went along.

In my case, because I was so ill, I found myself inadvertently creating a little virtual community around the diary. People of all ages and sexes hung out with me, read the diary, used the discussion board, got advice, found mates, created friendships, fought, loved, stormed off, fell in love, lost relatives, lost kids and more than a few died -- some of AIDS, some of cancer. We needed each other and it worked.

People now do this in a more sophisticated and connected way at Facebook or MySpace, or at other places. Corporate America has suddenly discovered that creating these networks can be monetarily advantageous. And I suppose that's true. But there was something romantic about our little groups cozying together in little places, seeking shelter from the storm. It was safe. But times have changed. Kids grew up and graduated. Others began focusing on their work or their lives. Got married. And I think that's a good thing. It was a healthy place we created.

And the great thing about having created the Bonus Round space -- which is still centered around the diary, the blog -- is that people can and do drift back into my life all the time, reminding me of those warm nights around the virtual fire.

Back in 1999, as this book was being written, my diary/community was on the cutting edge of a social experiment and we didn't even know it. We just liked each other.

After all, according to the authors of that book, my diary was "enthralling without being visually stunning."

I think that describes me to a T.
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