Fly, my online beauties, fly …
In terms of internet years, I’m a dinosaur.
I remember irc, The Rough Guide To The Internet, Compuserve, dialup modems, AOL, Netscape Navigator, telnet, Alta Vista.
I remember booking half an hour in a cybercafé and running out of websites to look at. I remember when the internet was an unmoderated, unpredictable and – frequently – undesirable place to be. The wild wild web; the new frontier.
And I remember hitching my Teach Yourself HTML In 24 Hours book to my virtual mule and staking my claim.
First came Mystic Molly Of The Web, the internet’s foremost feline psychic. What started as a Viz-style joke site ended up with a devoted following, some of whom seemed to believe in my then moggy companion’s supernatural skills, based on some frankly rather unsettling emails I received at the time.
Screen Scene begat Happy Hopper, which for the life of me I can’t remember the rationale for the name of. A gaming site, I published cheats, walkthroughs and reviews of titles, many of which – like Daggerfall and Fallout – were the pixelated predecessors of games I play to this day. That begat an opportunity to freelance for a now-defunct site called Games Domain, and for me to receive free copies of usually dreadful PS2 games to give an online mauling to.
Screen Scene begat HeadCleaner, ‘the UK-based alternative music e-zine’. I reviewed every single and album I purchased (and I purchased a lot), everything from disposable pop nonsense to weirdcore muso ramblings. I also managed to interview such luminaries and heroes as David Gedge, Carter USM and Sigue Sigue Sputnik…
Several years later, I got the urge again. Although the internet had progressed far beyond the dusty canyons of those frontier days, I still felt a need to carve out a tiny part of it as my own. That urge coincided with the month I saw over 80 shows at the Edinburgh International Festivals, and – partly because I didn’t want to forget what I’d seen – I set up the Edinburgh Festival Insider blog and reviewed every sorry last one of them. By the end of the festival season that year, some of my quotes and star ratings were pasted up on posters across the city. I was hooked once more (bear in mind this was back in the days before there was as many reviewers as performers …)
That, of course, is my fiction writing (and, I suppose, this blog, which still carries faint echoes of Mystic Molly, HeadCleaner, Happy Hopper and the rest). Last year my writing almost died on the vine too, but as I’ve mentioned already, 2017 sees me and my creative fires back with a vengeance.
One flame of those fires will return to Edinburgh Spotlight, something I often feel ashamed of neglecting so much. Most of the remaining energy will go into the writing, that’s a given.
But I feel a glimmer of an itch of an urge again. The same one that first appeared when I realised the web was a place where anyone could play.
And although I’m not sure what it will be yet, I predict the imminent birth of a new website…