It's hard to believe that a small online project that I began in Boston is still active after over 5 years with a membership of over 200 members worldwide. I was then a student at the Massachusetts College of Art in Boston still very much wanting to be a graphic designer. The year 2000 was a year a possibilities. The 2YK bug never materialized (though the Internet-Technology sector would soon fall into shambles). The industry could not hire fast enough matriculating design students. Companies like Razorfish were offering 60-100K salaries to HTML newbies without prior work experience. You could sleep in the office. You could play videogames and foosball, or drive miniature cars around the spacious offices. There was free Jolt! cola in the refrigerator. The office in Cambridge I worked at only a few years before was now occupied by Razorfish. New Media design companies were all the rage.
In the summer of 2000, I had a decision to make. I could either intern with Razorfish, with a very real chance of making significant inroads with the company prior to graduation and, in effect, improving my chances of an enviable salary and position at the firm. Or, I could observe John Maeda's Aesthetics and Computation (ACG) team at the MIT Media Lab, who were doing non-commercial experimental work in computational design. I chose the latter, though not without hesitation.
Within a year the internet bubble would collapse and there would be massive layoffs at new media design companies nation and worldwide. Ironically enough, in the same office where I worked only a couple years prior at a technology company developing alternative fuel battery cells, the superstar of that industry was the unstoppable Enron. Within the span of five years, two industries located in that haunted office would collapse under their own weight, mismanagement, and greed. At that moment, in an unpredictable world, I felt I would always simply follow my instinct.
But back to the project. At that same time, I began an online group called E-DENTITY. At the time, I also owned the E-DENTITY.NET domain name, which I used to host my design portfolio and poetry. The name seemed quite novel to me at the time but I soon and still now cringe when I hear it. It seems like a painful cliche of a utopian world of the late nineties. Fast companies, endless venture capital and greed unseen since Reaganomics. A description of the online forum:
E-DENTITY is a collective of Boston-based (and beyond) designers, architects, artists, performers, filmmakers, video enthusiasts, poets, writers and other creatives. This space will serve as an ongoing conversation about design/art theory as they apply to creative expression in new media, video, film and performance. Events, free lectures, seminars and other related information as well as problem solving/problem making will be discussed. We also hope to address the ethical implications of design. Contributions from students, artists and faculty in area schools such as MassArt and MIT.
It was first hosted on a free service called egroups, which was then bought out by Yahoo! and incorporated into Yahoo! Groups. Now, it is on its way to its sixth year anniversary with people still posting information, announcements, and links. There are better things than this. It seems like a relic, but one that still works. Like a lawnmower you never have to fix.
PS: Unfortunately for me, I cannot access Yahoo! groups in Vietnam without a proxy. It seems that it is blocked by the national firewall here. Hooray Yahoo Groups!
Posted by on December 6, 2005 12:08 PM | Permalink