Hi. I’m Keith.
By way of introduction, I guess I’ll start with some bonafides: I started writing for the web in 1994, when I was a student at San Francisco State University and email was not yet standard for students, let alone the rest of the world. I configured and used “Interslip” to connect my LC-era Macintosh to my brand-spanking new 14.4 baud modem. I ran several blogs before they were called blogs. They were just “Websites” back then.
I used Photoshop 2.0 and the first iteration of FutureSplash, a new animation program that was bought up by a company called Macromedia, which renamed it Flash. I wrote HTML by hand with SimpleText. My “Blogger.com” login name was, simply, “Keith,” because I was one of the first to use it. I built functional, high-profile websites for the BBC and McClatchy Newspapers before I had graduated from college.
And then I walked away from the Web for a mostly unremarkable career of about 20 years in journalism. I was a municipal reporter for several regional and local newspapers and news websites. I won some awards here and there, made some decent, working-class people’s lives a little better once in a while by sticking it to The Man, and generally fought the good fight when I could.
Back when I was in college, a mentor of mine once asked me if I was enjoying learning all this new technology that was so rapidly coming out. I told him I did, which was true. It was cool. I was learning a new visual language, new computer languages; there was audio, video, animation — and I knew all of it. I was in San Francisco at the beginning of the tech revolution. In college. What could be better?
But, I told him, none of any of that was as satisfying as putting together a good sentence.
This was also true. And still is.
That mentor, a tenured journalism professor, had already been thoroughly seduced by the new tech explosion. He was baffled by my response. That professor went on to create a Web company that sold overpriced bullshit to soulless idiots with too much money and later sold that company to a bigger company for a gogillion dollars and he is, as far as I can tell, still kinda an asshole.
That’s what leads me back here, I suppose, a couple of decades later and to a Web I once built that is now entirely foreign to me. It seems anachronistic to start a blog now. But I’ve grown tired of the Internet as a whole, and social media in particular. Back when I built websites, lots of them looked roughly like this one. They were not trying to sell you anything, or get you to believe anything, or move you in any direction or capitalize on your time or your thoughts. It was just new, wide open and weird. It was a big, weird club of weirdos doing weird things weirdly. And it was so cool.
So maybe that’s it. Maybe that’s why I’m doing this again. Maybe I want to recapture some of that weird, tell some stories and read some, too. That was always the coolest part of this Web thing. That’s the part I miss.