Friday, October 14, 2005

Internet Boom

In November, 1999, I wrote a letter in response to "How the Internet Ruined San Francisco", an article published in Salon. I read it with nostalgia, since the time it discusses has since passed, like everything does. But here it is:

"I was forced into the Internet industry because I needed to do something creative that would actually support me and my loved ones. I was sick of crack addicts sneaking into my building in the Lower Haight and stealing my jeans out of the laundry machine. I was sick of temping for 10 months at a time at law firms where people didn't even greet each other in the hallways, just so I could live in Bali for two months and spend my time in a place where dreams and reality were similar states of mind, where the community collaborated to create beauty.

I wrote part of a play about women travelers that led to my first Web job -- writing a 'tax fairy tale' for a computer geek whose day job was tax attorney. He handed me a few Xeroxed sheets of HTML tags and said, 'You should learn this; you'll make more money.' That was in 1994.

Fast forward to 1999, San Francisco. I spend my time in a place where dreams and reality are similar states of mind, and the community collaborates to create beauty. I have a washer-dryer in my garage in Bernal. I spend hours doing things like creating interactive slide shows with photos the AsiaQuest expedition team transmits from the Silk Road; animating kangaroo characters; brainstorming in boardrooms where dogs run around and babies coo; collaborating with people with whom I talk and drink and rollerblade and cry and river-raft and attend concerts and play Scrabble and laugh; working in an office with puppets, music and masks, ginger plants and Ashante wooden combs, seashells and plastic frogs and Legos and origami and balloon animals and a JFK Jr. shrine. We sit on the floor. The CEO went to Germany after college with $24 and invites us to Wildlife Conservation Society events. My boss, who almost became an astronaut, takes us out for margaritas when we ship.

My starving artist friends, some of whom would have had no choice but to take a permanent job in a bank or a law firm or insurance company, or who would have moved back home to Iowa City or to somewhere else where they could live cheaply, like Prague, are now making money in San Francisco expressing themselves: designing, coding, writing, directing, coming up with ideas, starting businesses, influencing others.

I am not rich; I haven't had time to fix the dent in my Ford Ranger pick-up; and the one thing I miss is moving through the jungle with the smell of coffee and jasmine in the air and the birds singing from the trees. But with leftover creative energy from work, I have been going home and writing a novel, finally.

It's 75 pages, so far."


Blogger telfair said...

I feel like a dorky fan kid, but your writing is phenomenal...your blog blows me away.
...How's the novel coming?

4:18 AM  
Blogger joyfish said...

Dear telfair,

Coming from someone who writes the wonderful six ten pine, a blog that features great characterizations of your parents and husband and life in Australia, I am honored. I need to do another round of editing on the novel, but your encouragement helps...

1:09 AM  

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