- In the beginning...
- I grew up in Kokomo, Indiana, a great place to be from...
- I learned computing on punchcards, Fortran II on an IBM 1130
- I got my degrees (Computer Science & Systems Science) at Michigan State University in 1975 and 1982.
- I was on the old Arpanet in 1975, writing SAIL on the Sumex DEC-10, qualifying me for the Internet Old Farts Club.
- I was part of a Michigan startup which went bust in 1983, and I came West to join some old friends working with Gary Kildall at Digital Research. I left with Gary to do a CD-ROM startup (KnowledgeSet) in 1985.
- Then suddenly...
- ... went up to Palo Alto for two days, to goof off at the 'History of Personal Workstations' conference. The stars were out: Englebart, Kay, Licklider, talking about >why< they did it. Something clicked, and the lameness of batch processed CD-ROMs was pretty obvious. Computing as personal media was the agenda from then on.
- ... heard some rumors about a Bill Atkinson project and bluffed my way into Apple and onto the HyperCard and CD-ROM teams in 1986. Cooked some big (for then) HyperCard database projects with Grolier and Whole Earth. (Thanks to Sue Ambron for the funding!)
- ... got into the agents and database problem, doing early personified agent (Guides) work with Abbe Don, Brenda Laurel, Kristee Rosendahl and Gitta Salomon. When Apple ATG decided to have a text and hypertext research group in 1988, I got asked to manage it.
- ... got sucked all the way into management, and ended up leading projects or departments in text retrieval, hypertext, groupware, and online communities in the next few years. Along the way, I helped organize the ACM SIGLINK and its Hypertext conferences. There was a guy with a kinda ugly demo called WWW at one of them.
- ... started a project called TeleCommunity. A Stanford student named Steuer spent a whole summer surfing on my nickel to see if we could persuade Apple that the nets were getting to be a serious issue. Nah...
- ... jumped half way out of Apple, to run network software engineering at the Kaleida joint venture with IBM. You don't suppose two big companies would invest $60 million without a business plan, do you? Nah....
- ... got headhunted to run CompuServe's future technology area. Ended up trying to convince them the Internet was the future, and started the first (official) Internet engineering group there. Yes, I did move all the way back to Columbus, Ohio. No, I don't recommend it.
- ... came back West to Seattle to restructure CompuServe's Spry acquisition into an Internet Service Provider, SpryNet. Seven months in a relocation apartment during a Seattle winter. I don't recommend that, either.
- ... bailed back to the Bay Area, where I'm now affiliated with the Institute for the Future, and doing private consulting. Home again!
- And finally...
- Community is where it's at on the Internet, absolutely.
- Every online service marketer knows that if the users don't talk to each other, they leave. It's as simple as that.
- Meeting each other and building our own commons, as we choose ourselves, is the differentiating power of the medium.
- If the Net isn't put on a sound economic basis that recognizes this, we and all of our hopes and business plans are toast.
- We are wiring Gaia's nervous system, so let's do a good job, OK?
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