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 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: