Why I entered the field of Netizen
My carefree days in Venice Beach are long gone but the fire ignited in my heart remains. When I first entered this field I was among a small group of peers. We were technologists filled with the hope of a digital democracy. Our publications spoke of a revolution, of empowering of being free at last.
A younger generation will always come with vision of grasping power from the generation before. Ours, of course, was the most beautiful. In an information economy, the more you give, the more you have. You don't lose information you share, it becomes more valuable, simply because you know who has it.
I remember watching a new breed of men arrive. They had no knowledge of a democracy but were excellent capitalists. A changing of the guards occurred somewhere in the late 90's. This new breed knew little of geek idealism but much of bribery, of salesmanship of old media that once was new. They inflated the market, which led to it's eventual demise. Senior management remained old school - silver slick salesman lacked technical prowess - they were masters of the buck but never where it stops. As an expert in Geodemographic marketing and Web Analytics I was responsible for a multi-million dollar warchest when the new school arrived.
Over time, I've watched more men become millionaires than 10 dollar an hour jobs that the Branson Landing will create. Our field had a greater respect for brain power than momentary gain. This realization occurred in 1997 when I was taken out to lunch by the CEO of Double Click. Here I was with a revolutionary in digitally targeted advertising. At the time, Double Click had the ultimate ad delivery system - they could measure Frequency, SIC codes, fortune 500 and geographic ad delivery - a traditional marketers dream. As this executive ate his breakfast of blueberries and cream he spied a geek being recruited by a headhunter - the great leader was starstruck by great geek.
Before this time I was somewhat of a beach bum with a passion for technology. It wasn't soon before my days on the beach were traded for flights to New York and time weekly shuttles from LA to Silicon Valley.
My career route in high tech cam via Cyberjava, a cultural center for digital culture in the Westside of Los Angeles. 4 engineers set up this shop that hosted the major networks first moves into "cyberspace". An up and coming show called "Friends" was one of those customers. The cast came to Cyberjava to engage "the online community" in a chat. More to my liking was the groups of Technology Innovators that would meet each week. My job as a barrista kept me in the center of action helping experiment and debug some of the core technologies we have the priveledge of taking advantage of today. It was also a great way to pick up side work. It wasn't long before a consultant from the #1 computer manufacturer at the time needed a netizen (we were few at this time). I went from the beach to writing corporate strategy for Packard Bell/NEC. In my niche I had bypassed my professors and made moves in pioneering my field. I was too young and inexperienced to truly know how plush a job writing strategy is. I was paid to study and prophesy technologies path. Today, this work is still valid but the cycle is much more rapid. Strategy wasn't enough, I needed action and action I got developing our first online sales operation. The bigwigs were scared of our success. They feared revenue streams provided by Sears would be threatened. Whose going to buy a computer from anywhere other than Sears? Yeah, well, that's the problem with being an advisor - your work is taken as advice and even with great vision it's up to the suits at the top to call the shots. Even though my groups best advice was not taken, much of it was and meeting with the top technology executives had its own reward. I kept these contact cards like a kid keeps rookie baseball cards. It wasn't until an irrate girlfriend destroyed them three years ago that I lost possession of them. I miss my Jerry Yang my Mike Eisner.
Years later when I entered online advertising as a buyer I kept this idealism. Million dollar contracts had provisions for charities though I never had the time to execute them. Interns from USC and UCLA lacked the experience to implement - handing operations of goodwill over were exercises in futility.
Eventually, I left this field. I was fed up, saw too much corruption, too much of a souless new school. I cashed out, unplugged and went into the woods to live life deliberately.
It's different today though I haven't lost a vision for a better world. I'm older now and have a two year old reason to make sure the world is a better place. I've learned that it's not about the money because some men will do for 5 dollars what I thought men would do for a million. I've learned where my flaws are, learning how to correct them. Still, I haven't lost faith that a wretched soul like me can achieve something great.
Over the past few weeks I started working on a site for the Salvation Army in Branson. It means a lot to me, because this technology can do great things. This little sites success online means more to me than any 7 digit deal. It can make the fire burn brighter that at times grows dim.
Prepared by: Darin Codon