Journal: News & Comment

Saturday, August 19, 2006
# 12:01:00 AM:

A decade in webland

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Ten years ago this month, I returned to the world of software. I'd spent my last few years at university in the early '90s pestering people about this Internet thing—I'm proud to have been the only student on an information technology task force, and one of those who argued strongly that Internet access both be kept open on campus, and be promoted to expand the diversity of its online population, all before the Web had even been invented.

But in 1994 I had veered off into a career as a full-time rock drummer (something I still do on the side). We weren't low-tech by any means: we made the cover of the local Burnaby newspaper with our radical ideas of being one of the first indie bands with our own email list, plus copies of our songs posted on a "World Wide Web Site" called the Internet Underground Musical Archive (IUMA).

But I was then in the music business, not the software business. In 1995 I bailed out on the musicians' lifestyle and briefly flirted with a job in magazine advertising (where I ended up in charge of much of the computer stuff, of course), but by August of '96 I'd answered an ad in the newspaper (remember those?) at a Vancouver company called Maximizer, acting as administrative assistant to a bunch of Windows developers who'd just released what should have been called Maximizer 3.1, but instead was "Maximizer 3.0is," with is not being the world "is," but the acronym I.S., standing for Internet Savvy. (Very cute.)

That fall I also recall meeting my old UBC friend Bill Dobie for lunch in Gastown. We chatted about the upcoming U.S. presidential election (could Dole beat Clinton?) and a job he'd found through a similar newspaper ad: working as a shipping agent, visiting freighters and learning about the ocean cargo business, which was still running its communications largely by telex machine. Look where that got him—and now me.

I stayed at Maximizer for four and a half years, through three major versions of the software, and the whole up-and-down wave of the dot-com boom and bust, which eventually shunted me out the door when a third of the company lost their jobs in January 2001. Now it's been ten years since the day I started there and HR Manager Amy Jones showed me around the office, and almost five years since I left.

My one regret? That while I worked there, I didn't bother to try the brand-new Caffè Artigiano that had been built across the street. How much great coffee I missed out on, I tell you.

P.S. As a funny aside, back in 1993, this is everything I had to say about the Web: "The World-Wide Web is the beginnings of a 'hypertext' Internet package, where you can select almost any word in a piece of text and automatically be cross-referenced to others related to it." Yeah, I guess it was that, back when Aliweb was still a prototype of the first search engine.


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