jill davidson

virtual communitarian

In the beginning...

In the beginning, I had e-mail at work. Couldn't see the point of it. Never used it. "So, fine, I can write to people all over the world for free. I can write to people in Norway and they will get the letter right away. Fine. But I don't know anyone in Norway. I really don't get the point of this."

Did educational research and saw a possibility of the glimmering future. During a research visit to a big computer company, I saw hyperlinked text with pictures. Cool!. I thought, "This is how I think! Nonlinear! I love this!" And then didn't see anything like it again for years. Went to grad school, taught high school, ran a university learning center. Moved from New England to San Francisco.

Then suddenly...

I had e-mail again and started to get it. Joined a mailing list. Joined the an on-line conferencing system. Got the religion, the fever, the addiction. Started a couple of on-line conferences. Went to a few parties. Found friends on line.
Saw the World Wide Web. Hey, it's that hypertext-with-pictures deal again! Supercool! Did a web page for work. Started another conference on-line, a wildly successful one. Did a home page. Knew more and more people in new media. Began to mutter to my friends that maybe I wanted to work in the this industry someday, maybe in a couple of years, down the road, someday. Realized that I had lost the need for distinction between life on-line and life unplugged. The divisions had melted. It was all just life.

And finally...

Howard Rheingold and I began to talk about virtual community. I moonlighted for Electric Minds for a bit, then quit my university job. Told one of my friends "My procrastination device has become a career." Now, 24/7, I get to think and talk and worry and wonder about how we find like minds in cyberspace. This is my job. This is how I think!

And I get e-mail from my sister in Qatar now. Cool, huh?
photo by Marcellus Amatangelo

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