In August 1993, I finished film school. Three days after turning in my thesis, I drove a moving truck from Los Angeles to San Francisco, to be part of what was already happening around the net and new media technologies at that point. Mosaic had been released that spring and it seemed critical mass was around the corner. The net was moving beyond subcultures, linking people all over the world, and putting neighbors in new relationships. Soon I would be living in one of the few grassroots networked neighborhoods on the planet. I’m not talking desktop metaphors here, but a real neighborhood network–apartments, with a server in one kitchen, CAT5-tied-to-sneaker hurled across street to friend’s apartment (the other sneakernet), and over to friend of friend, who likes to use your roomate’s LaserJet downstairs, then wake you for her printouts.
Even during the BBS years and earlier it had been obvious that networked multimedia would change us and the world. I was lucky enough to be where one could feel the groundswell of being in the midst of amazing things. San Francisco in the early 1990s was home to a vibrant scene–artists, geeks, musicians, scientists, entrepreneurs, hippies, hackers, hucksters, dreamers, and poets–all experimenting with technology and telecommunity. What better way to study the coming networked culture, I thought, than to move to San Francisco and be part of it? It may seem a little naïve in this post-dotcom era but I truly believed in what Howard Rheingold had in his .sig file: “What it is…is up to us!” So did a lot of other people and that’s what made San Francisco such a draw in the fall of ’93. 10 years, a millennium, and several lives ago.