When CERN changed the course of my life

The web changed my life. I mean, we can all say that, but the web became the centerpiece of the professional career I ended up pursing and just a massive part of who I am. Timing is everything and this case is no different for me. It’s worth revisiting all this within the context of CERN releasing the web into the public domain on April 30, 1993. There is no measure by which this can not be viewed as a landmark historical event for society, but also for me.

At that particular moment in April ‘93, I was a senior at the University of Vermont. I didn’t finish my degree until December of 1993, then I moved to Arizona 9 months later.

In early 1995, the impact of CERNs decision was becoming realized. I was hearing about the web everywhere. I was also a little lost in what I wanted to do in life (hardly a suprise for someone in their early 20s). I was making a living as a tennis pro after bailing on starting a career in financial planning using the business degree I graduated UVM with. Truth is, I think I was just stalling for time while I figured some things out. And thats when I discovered the Web. The combination of text, graphics, colors photos… it IMMEDIATELY attracted me. It was a big melting pot and reminded me of one of my earlier loves: an eclectic mix tape. In March 1995, my father got me a laptop for my birthday (and belated graduation gift). It came with a 14.4 modem and I got myself an account with an ISP called Primenet.

And away I went. I spent a ton of time on the web just sponging information. Eventually I wanted to figure out how it worked. At some point in time, (I don’t know exactly when in 1995), Amit Advani took me to a computer lab at Arizona State University and over the course of a couple hours, showed me some basic HTML as well as how to make and edit a live web page over a telnet client. I owe Amit a ton. That was a BIG moment. I like to think that I paid him back a few weeks later when I explained to him the knowledge I recently gained about file transfer protocol. I think I said something like “Hey man, I dont think we need to create and edit the pages live on the server.” It was our first lesson in avoiding hot fixes. 🙂

Super Bowl XXX was being held in Tempe in January ‘96. So in the second half of 1995, I found out about an internship on the Internet services team on the local planning committee. A woman named Amy Roffman New (I lost track of her a loooong time ago, I’ve always felt bad about that) gave me that opportunity and while it wasn’t a big opportunity, it was enough. The combination of Super Bowl and internet on a resume back in 1996 opened a lot of doors.

And that’s how I get started with all this. 🙂

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