The Internet has always been a passion for me and over the past 30 years, I have helped it blossom. It’s 1995 and I am standing in a queue at Heathrow Airport waiting to go through security. I have an overnight bag with enough clothes for my three days in Brussels, plus a bag carrying my newly purchased pride and joy laptop computer. Back in the day, you had to ensure that your laptop battery was fully charged before going through security because the uniforms made you boot the machine up to show them that it was indeed a laptop computer and not a bomb that would take the aeroplane out of the sky – and this was way before Islamic suicide bombers came on the scene.
The laptop was not a lightweight affair; it was more of a luggable than a truly portable computer, which required a heavy dose of steroids or four Shredded Wheat for breakfast, but it meant I could work and, more importantly, pick up emails when I was away from home. This was crucial as I was a member of a European Commission sponsored project to demonstrate how the emerging Internet-based technologies could help the geographically disadvantaged, EC speak for those stuck in the back of beyond.
In the mid-1990s there were visionaries who believed that you did not have to live and work in a capital city to earn a crust in your chosen field – unless you were a surgeon or something similar – and the group of us working on the Internet project met while managing a teleworking forum on CompuServe.
Each of the project members had their “day jobs” and mine was in marketing communications. I had already compounded my reputation as a techno fan by freeing myself from the arm-aching tedium of stuffing hundreds of envelopes with press releases by using WinFax, an electronic facsimile machine that sent-mail merged press releases to journals with the press of a button and scheduled for the middle of the night when the receiving machine would be quiet.
My role within the project was to facilitate the Internet front end, largely because I had done newspaper and magazine design as a journalist and I also knew what HTML stood for! In the space of the four-year project, my laptop had been consigned to the cupboard in the office and I was picking up emails and doing simple work on a personal digital assistant (PDA) called a Palm Pilot.
Empowered by this shrinking of hardware and the opportunities the emerging technologies offered, I started the PDA Pro blog but shut it down some years later when PDAs become obsolete and the smartphone and tablet revolution began. Thinking I had a future proof title I started the Web2 and More blog which gained a respectable Google Page 4 ranking and around 15000 visits a month. As the technology grew the Web2 title became out of date so it was consigned to the bin.
This latest venture, The Tech Savvy SMB, is live and running pretty much as a hobby, but I am still fascinated by Internet-based technology and the way it can enhance and empower our lives. Sitting here in 2021, the dreams and aspirations, excitement and enthusiasm I had/have all come to fruition – and much, much more