Suzanne Romanick Lainson

When did you first get involved with digital?
First online in 1993.

Why did you first get online?
I was getting my masters degree in Integrated Marketing Communications at the University of Colorado/Boulder. One of the electives was a class being taught at the Apple Media Research Lab, which was in Boulder. We were required to get modems and get online for the class. We met in person, but we were also required to exchange ideas online too. We were given an account through Apple’s OneNet, so unlike many people of the day, we were able to be online as much as we wanted without paying by the hour.

How would you describe your work and professional interests in the 1990’s (or 80’s etc).
At Apple we were talking about the future of newspapers in the Internet age. Mosaic was too new to have been adopted, so what we were playing around with was crude by today’s standards. Apple was using OneNet, a system of BBSs (bulletin board systems) around the world, that were linked together. So that was what we were using to test our ideas. We were talking about the three elements of online newspapers (the users, the news community, and the advertisers) and how to serve them all. I started doing a series of posts on marketing, and I think I may have created the first newsletter about online marketing. In 1994 Apple held the “Ties that Bind” conference in Cupertino about online communities. I attended that. Everyone around the country who was heavily involved in online communication and creating local online communities was there. Boulder, being one of the early online communities, was represented by several people working on projects (e.g. Boulder Community Network). Also in 1994 I worked part time for Apple as a content provider for OneNet. I’d post info/links and see if I could encourage discussions from users. Another early community that I participated in was Steve Outing’s mailing list, “Online News.” While some people think the news community ignored the Internet, that wasn’t true. People were experimenting with ideas as far back 1994-95.

What do you think the future will hold internet/digital?
What I have been interested in is the democratization of creativity and also participatory projects (e.g. crowdsourcing). There are so many digital tools that allow average people to do photography, music, video, etc. and share it with the world. It’s upsetting traditional economics of the arts and creativity, but on the other hand, these tools and connectivity are allow far more people to feel creative.

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