It occurred to me the other day that e.politics really got started eleven years ago this weekend, way back in 1995. (Remember 1995? Before the dot-com boom? Before Monica Lewinsky? Back when budget deficits were on their way out, corporate Alternative Rock ruled the airwaves, and our long national nightmare of peace and prosperity was in full and frightening bloom?)
Over that long-ago Thanksgiving weekend, my dad and his programmer buddy and I got together to work on an email-based legislative alert system, an idea that pater Delany had dreamed up a few weeks before. The original iteration of epolitics.com sputtered along for a couple of years before it followed the dodo birds and Texas Democrats into extinction, but in the meantime it introduced me to the world of web design, online marketing and internet politics. It also helped bring me to the District of Columbia and my beloved neighborhood of Adams Morgan, while leaving behind a domain name that has turned out to be eminently recyclable (thanks for thinking that one up, Mom).
I don’t honestly know what would have happened to my life if the internet hadn’t come along. My friend Phil Lepanto and I have talked many times about the fact that we can’t imagine the kinds of jobs we’d be doing now if we hadn’t drifted into web work — where else would a couple of over-curious and under-skilled liberal arts majors have found a way to eat? Without the web, I would never have become a designer — I didn’t even know what graphic design WAS until right before I started actually doing it for a living. Without the web, I don’t know if I would have ended up writing for an audience. This medium has given me the first real opportunity I’ve ever had in my life to be a publicly creative person, and I’ve also been able to try to make the world a little better while doing it. All around, the ‘net has been a hell of a lot of fun to be a part of.
So, this Thanksgiving, I will give thanks to all the men and women who have worked over the years to make the internet possible. We can watch it change companies and institutions all over the world, but more than that, it’s changing lives. It’s certainly changed mine, and for the better.