I was thinking earlier about how I got started blogging and realized — dude, 10 years ago, I had no computer. And I started laughing maniacally. I mean, how do you learn how to build a website, much less develop a method for blogging, without a computer? Oh, you. I’ll tell you all about it.
I think I initially got online in 1996 the same way everyone got online at that time — via America Online. Yes. I lurked in chat rooms, I waited breathlessly for the oh-so-familiar declaration “You’ve Got Mail,” I even met people from online. The computer I used for all this was not mine, oh, no. It belonged to my older sister. So when we had to move for that, you know, thing, the computer didn’t go with us to L.A. So what’s an online addict to do? Spend way more time at school.
At the time, I was a student at Fullerton College. And I didn’t have a car. And I lived in L.A. So the equation was: student + no car + online addiction = hours spent in the computer lab. Oh yes. The computer lab. I spent so much time in those computer labs, poring over sites like Mixture Online, College Club and Asian Avenue, which were predecessors to Facebook and Myspace. I feel a little embarrassed admitting all this, but whatever.
Mixture (shortened from Mixture Online) and Asian Avenue gave members free online real estate — a member page which you could dress up with those silly animated gifs, MIDI files and other HTML. (This was before RSS and packaged Myspace pages came around.) Those mini pieces of online real estate made me want my own site.
But how do you do this without a computer at home? Well, I learned HTML at the computer labs, but you’ll note that I didn’t actually start keeping a blog until 1998. By that time, I believe I finally staked out a Geocities page. Yes…Geocities. Is Geocities even still around? Yes, it was bought by Yahoo some time ago. I forget exactly what the address used to be (I mean, dude, it was 10 years ago), but back in the day, they had all sorts of avenues, boulevards, neighborhoods, etc. I don’t remember what the original design of my site was, but it definitely consisted of really bad, free graphics.
I still had no computer at this point, I think. I put together my site using time from computer labs and the computer at my dad’s dental office. But I still managed to put together a logo:
OMG, can you believe this? Yes. Very goofy, very old school, very back in the day. Hey man. This logo was very in line with what everyone else was doing at the time, OK?
Anyway, I didn’t get my own computer until maybe a year later, after guy I was dating helped me build my own computer. It was a PC. It was glorious…to have my own computer. So when I finally got my own computer, I had to get Internet service, so with Internet service, I got space for a website that wasn’t Geocities. And…with the website space…I finally got a domain name.
So yeah. That’s how you learn HTML and build a website without a computer. Its way easier now, with Blogger and TypePad and WordPress doing all the work for wannabe bloggers and site builders now…. but oh well. At least I learned how to do it.