In 1995 I created the gif graphic to the left for a web-based project called “Webtales: An Evolving Tale of Cyberspace”. My idea was to create a story/tale written solely online by anyone who wanted to contribute. I started Webtales with two friends, Robin and Stephen, whom I met through my brother David. Both toured with David in the musical A Chorus Line in 1986-87. Robin was a “dresser” for the show and Stephen played the character Mike. We called ourselves Dancing Man Productions, named in honor of David, that’s him in the logo graphic below.
A little perspective on the state of the web in 1995:
The term “blog”, short for “weblog” didn’t even exist yet in 1995. Amazon.com, billing itself as the “biggest bookstore on earth”, had just sold its first book. Larry Page and Sergey Brin, founders of Google, were graduate students at Stanford and had yet to hatch their plan for web search domination. Netscape Navigator 1 ruled the web as the “browser wars” were about to commence.
The jpg image-standard had just been approved. Html 2.0 revolutionized web design permitting webpage layout control using tables. CompuServe, America Online, and Prodigy offered easy online access to the masses ushering in a new type of postal junk mail: AOL compact disks. Phone line Internet dial-up using a modem was the only way to connect to the web for home users at painfully slow speeds (28.8 kbps).
Listen to a modem dialing:
Webtales didn’t last long. You can see a few pages from Webtales below. They are primitive, even laughable by today’s standards but, that was the state of the web in 1995.
We had a few contributors but the challenge was how to get the word out? Without social media, there was no easy way to say “hey, here we are, check us out”. Today I’d post something on Facebook and at least my friends would take a look. I was disappointed, for some strange reason I expected it to catch on. In reality, the idea was ahead of its time technically speaking, it would be easy to do something like this now, there are countless projects like it. But, the main killer of the project was ME, me not having the confidence to persevere in spite of the limitations and obstacles. In short, I didn’t truly believe in my idea and myself.
In ’95 had already been a stay-at-home dad for twelve years (I’ll talk more about that some other time). Our three kids were in school so I had more free time to myself… a good thing. Yet, in hindsight, I realize now I was still reeling from the death of my brother David from AIDS in 1992. And, I was finally confronting my clinical depression, something I have battled my entire adult life but never acknowledged. In 1995 I was in bad shape but didn’t know it.
However, what I remember most vividly about Webtales is the engagement, the joy I felt in the process, the creative process. I loved working on it, figuring out how to make it work, building the webpages, writing the copy, and initial storylines.
It never dawned on me that the PROCESS was the most important element of the project, NOT THE OUTCOME!