Archive for the “About” Category
Women’s Internet History Project launched its first event on August 12, 2010. The conference room was packed with women from all aspects of involvement with providing a purpose and usage of the internet and digital. The support from the attendees was overwhelming. Advisory board members Gloria Feldt and Mary Boone provided sound advice on the organization. Several luminaries came to the meeting to ready to provide direction on the project.
The project is designed to provide a platform for women who provided a purpose and usage of the internet. Different from Wikipedia in that the records align to create a visual representation of history. Records align with current events, prominent women and the development of internet. The project will help document histories of the women in this industry, provide insight for researchers and educators, and lead itself to next generations of women who want to get into this exciting and ever changing industry. Including documentation of these histories the project design will change the way history is presented.
Many great discussions opened up including areas of copyright, legal entity, ownership of the records, and whether or not to participate. Some of the women involved worked hard but received little or no recognition for their work. It is interesting to note the meeting became a little heated with a discussion over whether or not men should help with the project.
After the discussion portion of the meeting there was plenty of time for networking. It was great to see so many rekindling relationships!
The meeting place for the event was beautiful and provided by advisory board member, Renee Edelman at Edelman’s offices and help from Charlie Campbell and Daisy Hutchinson. Thank you for your help!
Why did you first get online?
I first used an external modem to connect with a BBS in 1987 on my
Amstrad 1640 desktop computer. I had purchased the computer and a dot
matrix printer to type out my many stories that I had hand written
into spiral notebooks since I was in grade school. I had dreams of
publishing a book and felt that typing out manuscripts would be a good
At the time, I was living in Manhattan with my sister and two other
women who were very concerned about my computer usage which kept me
busy every evening and into the wee hours of the night. I, on the
other hand, was fascinated with words on the glowing screen and the
information I could access and post.
My favorite story about learning about the Internet is about being
logged into a BBS one night and some words flashed on the screen “Do
you want to talk?” I jumped out of my seat, ran to the window and
closed the blinds, thinking that someone was watching me or that my
computer was talking to me. Hey, I’d seen War Games. Eventually I
discovered that there were other people logged into the same BBS that
I was at the same time and that we could talk to one another through a
chat function. BTW, the person asking to chat with me that first time
was a 17 year old boy from Brooklyn.
When did you first get involved with digital and why?
My Internet hobby was growing, and I looked for every possible way to
bring my love of being online and onilne communications to my jobs. At
the time I purchased my first computer, I was in the music business
and over the years tried to get some of the bands I worked with such
as Metallica and Def Leppard online but my bosses resisted. Then when
I was running a nonprofit organization on domestic violence awareness,
I created the first online resources on domestic violence prevention
including a forum on a national BBS Women’s Wire, on America Online
and eventually on the Web.
Once I learned about the Web and took a $10 class on basic HTML, I was
hooked because of the incredible power for building and creating that
HTML afforded me – and anyone – and for the global reach. I began
getting emails from around the world thanking me for publishing
domestic violence research and safety information on the Web – a site
called SafetyNet that no longer exists.
Before the advent of the Web, around 1992, I began consulting clients
about email marketing and online focus groups using listservs as the
interactive platform. By 1995, I was building websites for clients
including launching the first online information about breast cancer
for Avon’s Breast Cancer Awareness Crusade. They were my first major
client for my Internet consultancy CGIM (Cybergrrl Internet Media
later renamed Cybergrrl, Inc.) although we initially launched them on
America Online, not the Web. I build their first website for $1200 and
consulted Avon Products, Inc.’s marketing and legal department about
the ins and outs of building a presence and community online.
How would you describe your work and professional interests in the
1990’s (or 80’s etc).
I was immersed in all things Internet but loved the Web. While we
built and communicated on a variety on commercial online services
(anyone remember eWorld?!?), the Web held so much fascination for me.
I built the first three websites for women, predating Women.com and
iVillage by over a year. The major difference between what we did with
Cybergrrl and our “competitors” is that we paved the way on a
shoestring, and they came into the space fully funded, using us as an
example of the viability – and opportunity – in reaching women online.
While working on the Web, I also began writing books for women
including “Cybergrrl: A Woman’s World Wide Web” and “Cybergrrl@Work.”
Speaking engagements followed, and I was lucky enough to be flown
around the world to speak at corporations, conferences, and to
governments about the issues surround women and the Internet and
nonprofits and the Internet. I lived and breathed the digital world
and loved being able to bring complex and confusing technical
information to women and girls so they could learn and benefit from
What do think the future will hold internet/digital?
Every day, there is something new, some new way to create, connect,
communicate. I’m amazed at how far we’ve come but also how far we
haven’t. I’m still irked that so many technology companies are led by
men, hire mostly men and are funded by men, particularly in
programming. And that the presence of women in any power positions or
the upper echelons of tech is still comparable or often in worse shape
than it was in the 90s. One step forward, two steps back, and the same
barriers- and sexism – we faced back then exist today. We have all
learned how to navigate around the barriers to find our successes, but
the fact they still exist is pathetic. But onward and upward.
Women’s Internet History Project is dedicated to preserving the stories and contributions from women who were the pioneers of the early internet days 1980-1999. This project provides the biographies, contributions, experiences and connections shared by women who were involved with internet and digital.
Mission: The premise of this project is to provide a platform to tell our stories, connect with one another, and celebrate the accomplishments of women in every aspect of the Internet evolution.
We’re building a historical record of women in the Internet history over a 20 year span.
The project is co-founded by Tery Spataro and Aliza Sherman.
Why did you first get online?
I got online because I had to! My boss at the time, David Boorstin, went to a conference at the AIGA and came back the next day saying, “We’ve got to get online! We need a website! We need to get Netscape!” I was his only employee so it was up to me to learn how to do this, and then execute it. I learned how to get online and create a website and was hooked from the first bleeping, screeching modem call.
When did you first get involved with digital and why?
I got online, and involved with digital, in the Fall of 1993. I got involved because my job required me to do so, but I fell in love with the online community and the possibilities of what one could do online so I began to get involved “extra-curricularly” and eventually moved on to having my own business.
How would you describe your work and professional interests in the 1990’s (or 80’s etc).
First I was a website designer (graphics and HTML), then I was a writer for websites, then I did PR for emerging technology companies, then I had my own business. My business was an online and emailed newsletter and website titled “Courtney Pulitzer’s Cyber Scene” and monthly networking cocktail parties titled “Cocktails with Courtney.” I organized events for my business and for new media associations in New York, and in major cities nationally and internationally.
What do you think the future will hold?
A more integrated networked “online” experience for everyone. We won’t be going to computers to access information or to create. The devices will be more integrated into our lives. This is already happening. It will just continue. I hope for a world where all the schools and low-income communities will have the same access, where accessing information isn’t just a “Western” luxury.
I have so many reasons for wanting to make this project come to life. First let me tell you a bit about my own story. I got involved with digital back in 1986. I was a struggling traditional graphic designer. My friend, Caroline Kavanagh showed me how to use a Mac in exchange for teaching her how to spec type the traditional way. I have to admit that learning how to use a Mac was love at first byte. I quickly became good at it.
Caroline’s tutoring helped me land my first computer animation job in 1989. Caroline went on to become one of the US top graphic designers. BTW Nextwave Productions was a startup I was first of four a partnership between Ingrid Newmann and Tim Mueller.
This was first time I got online. I also got into a lot of trouble for dialing up the W’ELL [bbs] from NYC. I would be on the W’ELL for hours from work not even realizing how much it was really costing the company I just started working for. Until they discovered and asked me to find a local bbs. See they were pleased with my exploration but not at the cost. I discovered ECHO. There Stacy Horn taught me how to navigate using unix commands. On ECHO I learned how deal with my shyness because behind a computer screen no one really knows who your. I enjoyed ECHO for 10 years.
In 1994, I designed my first page with the help of some of guys on ECHO: Howard Greenstein, Jason Anthony Guy, and Josh Masur. Howard informed me of WWWAC formation. It was 12 of us 8 guys and 4 of us women sitting at the table talking about this internet thing. Back then we shared so much.
Being involved with digital and internet entrepreneurs, having access to in the beginning to people like Stacy Horn and having helpful advice from peers lead me to get involved with several digital startups – some I founded some I was and am talent. Corporate life taught me a few things about business too. My process was fragmented and that’s why what we are doing with Women’s Internet History Project will provide so much with less fragmented history.
The Women’s Internet History Project is about our stories; about the women who helped establish beginnings to this industry. And this project will also help influence and shape the next generation of women who helped to create a purpose and usage of the internet. This project pays homage to us.
The platform will be relational database with a web site interface. The platform will display bios and contributions and historical timeline. It will also overlap current events, women’s history and internet history from 1980-1999 onto the biographies. The behavior and structure of the database is demonstrated in this illustration: