We need to have a 25th reunion for the first generation of Web developers. Sometime, say, 2021.
Back in 1995, 1996 I would visit San Francisco and one of my favourite things was to drop in on Adam and Marc at Organic Online, an early web studio. It was in the same grimy SoMa building as Worlds, Inc, some clothing sweatshops, and Wired. It was an exciting time, full of promise. We knew the Internet was important but it still seemed kind of nerdy and specialist. I think few people realized how quickly the entire world would be made closer by digital networks.
Recently I was talking to a friend who said he'd run into Jason and Meg and they'd spent some time talking about me. Which was flattering and seemed natural even though I haven't talked to them in months. And this week I was lucky to have lunch with Merlin who mentioned Ben and Mena and that got me thinking of Carl Steadman. Also, related, I sure wish I saw Matt's talk at SXSW. So many bright, creative people.
That last paragraph is blatant name-dropping, but I do it to convey my nostalgia. Those are all people I count as friends and colleagues but I don't have regular relationships with them. It's like we were college classmates. We're a community defined by a shared experience of helping birth the Internet. We were in the right place and right time and we (and many others) have had the opportunity to transform the world.
Part of my sense of generation was crystalized by this headline: 4chan founder: Zuckerberg is "totally wrong" about online identity. Christopher "moot" Poole and Mark Zuckerberg were both born in the 1980s: not quite post-Internet, but still a different generation than we are. And here they are arguing about online identity. A lot has been written about Facebook reflecting a new generation of startup and I admiringly agree. I'm excited to see what else comes out of the generation ten, twenty years younger than I am.