My personal enlightenment in 1997

deutschland_1Having spent a chunk of my career in interactive media and computer based training (Pioneer New Media; Authorware (merged with MacroMind now MacroMedia); Apple) and a heavy user of ISDN, Gopher and email in the early Nineties, I was pretty delighted when the WWWeb hit my radar screen pretty hard in 1995 with my first download of Mosaic in the first couple of months of that year.

But my personal experience with it didn’t really hit me right between the eyes until the summer of 1997. That was when my Dad and I headed to Germany for a two week adventure. I took along a Powerbook, an Apple Quicktake digital camera, an acoustic coupler, a copy of PageMill, Photoshop and my Compuserve account. My plan was to chronicle the Big Trip to Germany for my kids and ended up with extended family, friends and others logging on the Web to view the trip too.

My Dad was *very* interested in discovering whatever we could about my great-great grandparents (Johann and Suzanna) who emigrated from Mehren, Germany in 1854 to Minnesota and we scored some genealogical gems. Besides trying to find these gems, I just wanted a good experience with my Dad while drinking in the country and ‘publishing’ a daily diary of the trip so as to stay connected with my bride and kids (which is why — if you view the Big Trip — the writing might seem a bit sophomoric or goofy but my daughter was 9 and son 2.5 were the target audience). I did and it worked.

But the most powerful thing was this new publishing medium and my own amazement that I could send the HTML over the wires to a server in Minnesota and have it be instantly available to anyone, anywhere with a connection. It seems pretty old hat today, but at the time virtually everyone I knew thought it was incredibly cool.

Oh yeah…this publishing adventure was not without its frustrations. Standing in a phone booth at night with a Deutsche Telecom card trying to get connected to Compuserve made me — more than once — want to throw my computer through the glass and kick the snot out of the phone booth. I spent more time than I cared to goofing with the files, backing up the camera pics to the Powerbook, taking double pics (one with the cheesey digital camera and a ‘real’ one with a film camera). Dealing with the ‘tone’ pulse that Deutsche Telecom and hotels placed on the phone line (a ‘counter’ that would measure the time the line was open so the hotel could charge you…but it would often disconnect my modem connection!) often made me want to walk outside and scream.

All in all though it was a fun and interesting trip made all the more so by this unique online diary I kept during the trip. As I think about that experience vs. the type I have today (Wifi high speed connections, lots of ‘net tools, blogging software, film-like digital pictures, etc.) I treasure having that experience…and sharing it with my Dad and being with him on the trip. This was an experience we’ll not have again and one I’ll treasure forever.

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About Steve Borsch

Strategist. Learner. Idea Guy. Salesman. Connector of Dots. Friend. Husband & Dad. CEO. Janitor. More here.

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