As I’m typing this, it dawns on me that the title can be interpreted a number of different ways, but since my sense of humor often swings toward the self-depricating variety, I think I’ll leave it – (I imagine a lot of my readers from over at Mashable utter that phrase fairly often!).
Tonight I’m wrapping up the loose ends on the next installment of the “The New Kind of Journalism” series, and it dawns on me that the date in the graphic on my website is wrong. On every page of this blog, there’s an image my wife took of me while I was preparing for a panel discussion in Washington DC with the caption “Creating Satisfactory New Media since 1996.”
1996 is actually when I started blogging on the Internet, then on the Tripod and Angelfire free webhosting services. They weren’t blogs in the sense we know them now, as there wasn’t a real content management system. Religously every Friday, though I would create a new page of non sequitor, bad angsty poetry, and ridiculous animated .GIFs I’d find around the web.
Only in 1998 did Rizzn.com enter into existence. It was the home of the “Official Soledad O’Brien Headboard FAQ“, Joke of the Whenever I Get To It mailing list, the Official Kyle Howard Fan Club, and also served as the archives for two publications I put out in high school: JBM ONline eMAg, and the Rizzo e-Zine.
Both of these publications trace back to when I was 13 or 14 years old and still on the BBS’s. I downloaded and registered a piece of software (that’s still available!) called NeoBook. If you could liken it to anything available these days, think of it as a cross between Shockwave and HTML.
It was a WYSIWYG editor that let you create multi-page electronic books, laid out magazine style. There was a moderate amount of hyperlinking and text markup available within the system. There were some multimedia abilities (you could embed download packages as well as audio – don’t think video was really viable back then due to connection speeds and conversion costs, not to mention the fact that the only video any of us had was that Weezer music video that came on Windows 95!).
But I used it to build a small media empire for the Greater 903 Area Code, er, Area(?). I assembled a staff of writers from around the East Texas BBS scene, and found a couple of friends from down the block to sell advertisements. I was actually doing fairly well, issuing them monthly, and around seven months in started negotiations with Ingram Periodicals to get the magazine on the shelves of every Barnes and Nobles bookstore.
Of course when you’re employing slackers, paying them peanuts, and have the motivational and management skills of a 13-year-old kid, your running on borrowed time. When school let out and summer started, it was pretty difficult to keep the writers motivated. JBM eventually died.
About the time I got into highschool, though, two things happened. First and foremost, I discovered the Internet. Secondly, and probably with just as much lasting impact, I discovered our area punk scene. The Rizzo e-Zine was created, and I published a simple Internet mailer that provided times and dates for the shows as well as brief reviews and descriptions of the bands.
That lead to bigger and better things of a completely non-New Media related vein, but it always cracks me up whenever I look at my sigfile from 1995 and it says “Senior Editor,” and here it is thirteen years later and I’ve gone down a notch to “Associate Editor.”
As for my header graphic, to be completely accurate, I should probably change the caption to say something like Creating Satisfactory New Media since 1996 and New Media of a Questionable Quality Level since 1992.
Somehow, that doesn’t really flow as well, though.