MP3 before CBS Interactive took over? David Bowie's BowieNet? I'm 60 years old now and looking back at the hundreds of 13-year-olds and me...we were avid lurkers, listeners, collaborators and reviewers over Internet. We wrote music reviews and felt that we got to know technology visionaries, students in over 18 countries including Australia, Germany, Japan and Pakistan; world wide musicians, business owners...a real blast. We remember BowieNet.
As early as 1995, I used Internet as a learning tool in middle school English classes. "My" 8th grade students tried Netmeeting, ICQ, Buddy Phone, and VocalTec's Internet Phone. We were fascinated and sometimes led conversations on worldwide foreign language, multi-cultural, and electronic pal forums and mailing lists.
I co-founded a VoIP startup Super Technologies, Inc. and rolled out Super Phone which we also used in our classes, but some of the music services we signed up included Michael Robertson's MP3 site before it was run by CBS Interactive and David Bowie's BowieNet. My language arts classes were fun to teach and learn in because of the Internet, and I was lucky enough to have school principals and boards who put up with our insatiable appetite for learning via the Internet.
BowieNet was available as early as end of Q3 in 1998. David Bowie owned his own Internet service provider business. We signed up for and used BowieNet to get access to exclusive content for about 7 months. Lycos, during that time, was our favorite search engine because its newsfeeds were available via BowieNet.
We were fans of David Bowie because he showed young people that they could be whatever they wanted to be, and they could reinvent themselves any time they wanted. He kind of gave them a sense of confidence, if you know what I mean. We had an email address at one time, something like carverkids at davidbowie.com. We were enthralled because of live chats with our favorite music celebrities.
I forgot about this experience from my past until David Bowie passed away January 12, 2016. Actually, one of my students from 1999 called to tell me how much she loved learning to use the Internet, and now she works for Google. Google? Nice! We recalled how BowieNet reminded us of MySpace, kind of heavy feeling and slow but really fun.
David Bowie was not only a real inspiration for the young people that I had the joy to teach but also to anyone who wanted to evolve from pure technical dev to business dev to the arts and back, kind of "Renaissance-ish"!
Take me, for instance. I think that David Bowie was one of the many people who have inspired me to be more than a 1999 DotCom startup co-founder, English teacher, website developer, and social media networker. I've co-founded my own fashion brand called Suzahdi. Who knows where that will go? It's scary, fun and rewarding to reinvent.