Internet has taught us this year that we ARE interconnected

by Bonnie Bucqueroux
Bonnie Bucqueroux
The Web Doctor

As the pace of technological change accelerates, we have already learned to accept that a single year can bring great changes. But a year like this?
For the Internet, the story at first was the cataclysmic dotcom to dotbomb collapse of Web-tech stocks, with the resulting ripples through the rest of the economy. Last year at this time, the seemingly unshakeable Cisco Systems was selling at almost $72 a share. By last April, it had plunged to less than $29 (rebounding to $46 today).
As a barometer of the scope of the implosion, when I presented workshops at WEB2000 in San Francisco just before the presidential election that now seems so distant, the event covered almost three floors of the Moscone Center. The more than 3,000 mostly young professionals who attended looked like they had the world by the mouse’s tail. The freebies at the jam-packed trade show included free food and beer, exciting new software and a treasure trove of games and gizmos that I still play with.
This year, the event barely covered half a floor, with fewer than 800 people participating. The Cool-Site-in-a-Day contest never happened. I soon avoided the trade show altogether after being swarmed by the desperate folks who manned the few booths in attendance.
A fellow presenter entered the facility and immediately burst into tears when she saw how much things had changed in just one year. Rumor was that the layoffs in Silicon Valley had led to such a mass exodus that there was a six-month waiting list to rent a U-Haul trailer anywhere in the Bay area.
Yet my interest in the Internet never had much to do with becoming a millionaire. I built my first Web site in 1996, in the week prior to the first anniversary of my daughter Kim’s death. The 17-page sequential site memorializes her life and details her death from alcoholism and bulimia (http://members.aol.com/bucqui/kimmy).
Almost immediately after it was launched, I began receiving e-mails from people around the world. I especially remember a teen-age girl in the Philippines who was afraid to tell her parents that she was putting her finger down her throat after almost every meal.
If not for the Internet, how could I, a middle-aged woman in Michigan, develop a relationship with a young girl living halfway around the world? It was then that I began to see the power of this new medium to communicate, educate and transcend.
That experience reminds me how much the Internet has helped us cope with the searing events of 9-11. Like me, I am sure that you scoured the Web for the latest news for weeks afterward. Alternet.org is now at the top of my list of favorites. E-mail helped us all keep in touch with family and friends, which seems so important now. E-mail also seems to make even more sense in an era of anthrax.
Many people donated to victims online. When I can bear it, I read the wrenching and magnificent stories about the World Trade Center victims published by the New York Times (http://www.nytimes.com).
The Internet allows us to share insights and information. The Victims and the Media Program (http://www.victims.jrn.msu.edu) that I coordinate at Michigan State University hosted a seminar on how journalists covered the tragedy. The digitized video of the event again generated e-mails from all around the world. A professor in Argentina wrote seeking information on starting a similar program in his country. A reporter from Switzerland visited this past Thanksgiving, primarily as a result of seeing that video.
Maybe the lesson the Internet has taught us this past year is that we are indeed interconnected. No longer do the oceans protect us from problems in other parts of the world. Let’s also hope that the Web becomes a vehicle to bring us closer together in peace tomorrow.
WORKSHOP DATE CHANGES: Darcy Drew Greene and I have changed the dates for our upcoming workshops on Developing Your Web site: A Project Management Approach. Please mark your calendars for Saturday mornings 8:30 to noon on Jan. 26, Feb. 9 and Feb. 16 in Room 145/147 of the Communication Arts & Sciences Building on the Michigan State University campus. More details next year.
(Among many career paths and interests, Bonnie Bucqueroux acts as Web doctor for Web specialists Newslink Associates (designers of City Pulse Online). E-mail us your questions and she will try to answer them in future columns.)


Among many career paths and interests, Bonnie Bucqueroux acts as Web doctor for Web specialists Newslink Associates (designers of City Pulse Online). E-mail us your questions and she will try to answer them in future columns.

You can also read Bonnie’s article on E-training in Web Techniques magazine at www.webtechniques.com.







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