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Saturday, 2 October 2010

When the (Social Media) World Began

Computers got cheap the year I graduated from college/university.  I remember the commercials that were running at the time, with William Shatner hawking the new Commodore computers.  The VIC-20, with 5k memory, and the Commodore 64, with a whopping 64k.  One was $100, the other was $200.  I bought the cheaper computer, found out just how cool the computer world might be, and sold it to a friend a month later and bought the top-line "64."

Right away, I bought a 300 baud modem - that's about as slow as you can go, and the only consumer modem available at the time.  The entire idea of connecting with the world was exciting - even though I was sort of fuzzy on what that actually meant.  I experimented with calling up local computer bulletin board systems, but I also signed up for the biggest BBS of them all - Compuserve.  At that time, it was a text-only system.  Everything scrolled up the screen.  News, special interest groups, and limited text-only games were fascinating, but Compuserve chat was fascinating.  The idea that I could hold conversations with random people anywhere in the world (well - anywhere in America at that point), fired my imagination.  There were chat rooms of any variety - some created by Compuserve, and others by users themselves - so it was relatively easy to find like-minded people.  I still remember the first few people with which I chatted - another recent college student, a woman in her 50's, and others, all discussing issues of world peace! Where would this all lead? I was filled with anticipation for the future!

I still am.  Though I was an early user of some social networking tools, and have used it throughout my career for research, inspiration and communication, I really didn't understand what it meant to be a content creator and an active part of an online community.

How and why that all changed is part of what I hope to explore here.  I look forward to sharing the journey!

In the meantime, feel free to explore my vlog, blog and audioboo podcast - you can find it all on my blog at


  1. Thanks for that Rich & welcome aboard.
    After reading yours & Ken's intro's i'm beginning to think that i'm a fairly late developer, when it comes to computers & certainly the Internet.

  2. Ahhh... the good old "Commmie 64" ... Man, was that ever a fun time! My roommate and I never were successful getting that online back in the mid-80s, but there were some great games, and we learned so much.

  3. A while back, I ran into an old college friend, who vividly remembers coming by my house and sharing our first hesitant steps with our '64's - trying to figure out the new-fangled contraption. Back then, loading or saving a program meant using a special cassette drive that used standard audio cassettes to (very slowly) save or load data. Half the time, it didn't work. Ironically, using computers back then required a LOT of patience....