I’ve been working in “new media” for 10 years now, beginning with The Voyager Company in 1994. Back then, it was all about CD-ROMs and multimedia, and bookstores were turning into ‘media outlets,’ and the press was eating up this “future.” Buzz buzz buzz.
In 1995, I began working on the Web (for Voyager), helping manage one of the first e-commerce sites (what was it we called it then? oh yeah, a “catalog”). I remember when animated GIFs were all the rage, and I made a morphing “A” for the Voyager home page.
I thought about this last Friday night, at the RX Gallery, where a most fabulous party took place following a conference on social media, mobile devices, art, and urban settings. I didn’t attend the conference, so I felt like I was entering a play in the third act. And what a play! Hip artsy bar in an edgy part of town, filled with beautiful young people. It was very much like being a web worker in 1997. Except more gender equitable, and everyone was cuter. Naturally, a DJ spinning.
At some point, I found myself in the loft toward the back of the bar, looking out at all the beautiful people. And I really felt the metaphor, me on the outside looking in on this new wave. And me realizing that I was no longer at the heart of the new and cool thing. In the past, I had just naturally gravitated toward multimedia and the Web, and found myself caught up in The New New Thing. But in this present, I just can’t get worked up about social networking systems, or mobile devices, or some combination thereof. I try, but my eyes glaze over. Instead, I’ve opted to doggedly pursue making things make sense for people, and promoting the business value of this decision. Which feels both responsible and perhaps stodgily corporate.
And I wondered, as I gazed out on the room, have I matured? Or become rigid? Or both?