My Story: Growing Up in the Digital Revolution

Two months shy of its 150th birthday, the Rocky Mountain News breathes its last.

Soon after, Seattle’s oldest newspaper stops the presses to be reborn digitally.

The state of Minnesota uses precious tax money to retrain newspaper staff for an online audience.

Before the World Wide Web, I was one of those journalists in training. As fate would have it, the year I graduated in 1993, an invention called the web browser would soon change everything.

While starting my career as a journalist, my brother emails me something that blows my mind. It’s called Netscape Navigator and allows people to share graphical “web pages” with anyone anywhere instantly.

Always the entrepreneur, from my first lemonade stand to selling programs at football games, I immediately saw a new world of virgin soil, not yet spoiled by the corporate hands of Wall Street or the homogeny of mainstream media.

I stake my claim on a “plot of land” as soon as I can think of a domain name, which is the online address starting with www.

My father isn’t thrilled with the prospect of his son leaving the brick-and-mortar foundation of journalism to set sail on chaotic and untested waters — this new “Wild West.”

I could take only my writing skills and education with me. I set out to navigate the wild seas.

I found a part-time job at a university, where the task is to create “web pages” for departments using HTML, the language of the Web.

Completing my preparation, I move to San Francisco, the new digital hub. I launch an Internet services company that helps clients transform old business models to function in the world of new media.

I’m one of the first to surf a new site called Google, buy a book on Amazon (when it was still just a bookstore) and have a garage sale on Ebay.

San Francisco is a striking city by the bay, but wasteful to the pocketbook, and I miss the drama of the Midwestern seasons. I relocate to a town near Lake Michigan, about an hour from Chicago. After all, this new type of online business can function anywhere.

My frugality pays off as I survive the dot-com bust, and watch as the pipe dreams of the dot-com boom are realized, like wireless high-speed Internet and YouTube.

Rupert Murdoch, an elder of the old media, declares the Internet is the end of “media barons,” comparing Internet pioneers to the discoverers of the New World like Columbus.

As the digital media sweeps the land, I hear news from old friends in journalism undergoing sudden career changes. Even seasoned editors and writers are getting laid off due to shrinking circulations.

Most people know the obvious advantages of online media: disseminating news faster, adding video to a story, reader interaction, instant updates.

But the change in media is bigger than technology. It’s also a generational shift. The realm of new media is the quiet revolution of Generation X.

It’s a true People’s Revolution, granting the power of information to the general masses.

In the old days, a small group of editors and publishers decided what everyone read. To be a provider of content meant jumping on the corporate assembly line of mass production. News was melted down and poured in a mold of uniformity.

The Web broke the mold, allowing each user to customize their own reality, their own news sources, subscribe to their favorite blogs, Youtube channels, Twitter feeds, Facebook groups.

The Internet decentralized mass media, freeing it from the control of a few and turning it over to the masses.

Suddenly a blogger with vision and a laptop in Central Park can hold as much sway as the editorial board perched high above him in the New York Times’ building.

To the youth, newspapers are relics of the past. My son’s school news is online. The teacher emails parents and colleagues from her desk. Students meet with authors via web-cam. School events are rebroadcast online.

The dawn of hand-held devices like the iPhone meant people can now take the Internet anywhere.

The Web, once mislabeled a fad, is now the very fabric of modern life.

And that’s when it become boring for me…

So I wrote a novel (in both e-book format and good ol’ paper). And now, I’m relaunching my blog, to share insights I gained living as an entrepreneur while reconnecting with my roots as a writer.

Living free with my own schedule also allowed me to pursue a holistic lifestyle, remedies for mind body and spirit. And I look forward to sharing my best knowledge from this world as well