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The Internet Revolution: 1969-Present

Jun 19, 2008
Needless to say, we have just gotten past, successfully, without destroying our country, with north and south against each other, as we did in the Civil War, another "Industrial Revolution". No, not exactly like the experience of our forefathers and mothers, but we have gotten through and are right "in the thick" of the Technology (Especially IT...Internet Technology) Revolution. Remember, that paper thing thrown at your door? Oh, sure. It was called a newspaper. Some people still read that bulky item known as a newspaper. I suppose it is out of habit and loyalty.

I sometimes wonder what happened to the ol' boy network that divided towns into the rich and the poor, popular and unpopular? They dictated with whom we should do business, and who not? I guess they are still around but went from being James Bonds to Austin Powers. I remember how important they all used to be. Now, if they frown upon your business idea, big deal. You put it on the Internet. The power structure has changed 360 degrees, and the social structure as well thanks to this tool called The Internet. We may not have all realized it, but that was the *real* paradigm shift of our generation if there ever was one. And it happened quietly and peacefully, unlike the Industrial Revolution, an impetus for the Civil War. The ol boy network knew its time had reached its peak. Some of them bowed out gracefully, some are still slugging it out thinking they can "pray away the Internet". Kind of like The Unibomber (remember Ted Kazinski?). He was that hot-shot Berkeley professor who knew what technology would do to him so he sent out (more than threatening) letters. Technology happens! They just wish it would have never happened. Sure, some hurt feelings and egos, but that is life. Now pertinent information is available to all and it is up to all of us to use it in a fashion that serves both us and others.

As a cartoonist, who uses the Internet for most of my business (I also manufacture licensed gifts and collectibles bearing my cartoon images), I have had the opportunity to have some "unique doors" opened to me that would have, otherwise stayed tightly locked.

One of those doors was from The Father Of The Internet, Dr. Vinton Cerf who, happens to be a fan of my cartoons. We got to know each other via the Internet about eight years ago and he is a very fascinating man. He invented a protocol called TCP-IP in 1969 while at Stanford University. This hardware later became the driving force behind Arapnet. But only those in high positions at federal governmental organizations and The White House had access to this speed of light communication. Later (and this is where Al Gore comes in...yes he really did have much to do with the Internet), Cerf, now a PhD, approached him. He was still a young congressman (not yet even a senator) from Tn and asked him if he felt it could be brought public. There was much controversy and much of Congress felt it was just "too much information for the general public to be privy to. Gore worked hard on it and it finally passed. The Internet was born. Gore, in fact, also (according to Dr. Cerf) came up with the idea of domain parking, named the net "The Information Superhighway" So the "Al Gore Internet" joke, is really no joke at all", only a joke on those who enjoy telling it. Like him or hate him, he actually did just what he said, "I created the incentive to invent the Internet". (In political terms, that means "got a bill passed to make it happen").

When I communicated with Dr. Cerf, he was, at the time, a senior executive at MCI in Northern Virginia, but is now head of the creative department at Google. Though we've lost touch, I'll never forget some of the incredible thoughts he shared. He was young when he invented it; I believe a sophomore, and quite altruistic. He imagined information, especially important business information that was for so long held close to the chest by the large captains of business and industry, to be available to all, in other words, a more democratic society. Little did he know, that, even though we certainly do not live in a utopia, it is much more so and his dream very much came true.

It was further developed when an MIT professor named Tim Berners-Lee in 1984, invented a software called the World Wide Web which made the Internet much more advanced and flexible.

Small town America was my youth, very sheltered, and was considered a "slow learner", a middle child of two very good students, and, as often happens in small towns, I fell through the cracks, and stayed there. It became "my role" to stay in that position. No need to try something else. I was "Slow Rick" who "didn't get it". I took odd jobs, saved, and left that hamlet as soon as I could. I took odd jobs in New York, D.C. and other big cities, wherever I could land one. During that tenure of drifting, I did manage to learn a few "street smarts" and landed some nice paying jobs with impressive-sounding positions. Those jobs did not offer me peace of mind. They caused yet more stress and unhappiness. I wanted to be educated. It was not until I was 43 years old that I enrolled and seriously studied and became educated in the arena of Internet Technology.

Now, Londons Times Cartoons has grown into the largest and most visited offbeat humor site on the Internet. My creative team and I have produced 8500 plus cartoons and lured over three million yearly surfers. This is mentioned not to boast, but to explain what someone can do on a shoestring, hell, I had half a shoestring, but with a dial up phone line, a beat up computer, and a little space to work (I started in an abandoned rural warehouse). My intelligence level is fairly average. My emotional intelligence, is way above average, but that can be learned, regular IQ has more to do with genes, etc. When I started the Internet was Google-less, Social Network-less, Blog-less, Bookmark-less, and looking back, it was a bit more than archaic. It was just a bit better than telephones only because Yahoo!, and several other name brands and a few banner-exchanges and web-rings. I mainly marketed by phone the first few years.

I was able to get a very good education from an accredited school on the Internet. The ol' boy network of my small hometown had already given up on me by the time I was twenty, and there was no encouragement, and, when I was there, I had no idea why. Today, I own eight Internet stores with over 100,000 products from wall clocks to aprons to tees to mouse pads to key chains to water bottles to yes, the world's first offbeat cartoon gourmet coffee gift basket and the world's first offbeat real U.S. Postage stamps.

With social networks now available, that I have joined, I have ventured into some completely new businesses, with a phenomenal Florida associate and we did it through the leverage of the Internet, article marketing, blogging, PPC advertising, focus, and finally branding. Yet another venture that could not have been done by either of us without the fascinating equal-opportunity of the Internet. These are several ventures that I can already see are going to be profitable, and they cost us virtually nothing but time and knowledge. Could I have done that without the Internet and willingness to learn? I think not. I'd be working a menial job for one of the good ol' boys. That appeals to some, and God bless you if it makes you happy. I hope I am always young enough to learn. At 53, I am just beginning to really learn.

Finally, a word to the wise. Forget gurus. You are your own guru. Be guru-free. There are a lot of people out there who have good information, and bill themselves as gurus, and sell you their e-books or build-your-own turnkey websites, etc. They make it look enticing. My suggestion: Look at it as the flock of locusts that it is. The information may be good, but it is ALL available free, and even more is free, with a bit of research and persistence. I started this business, now worth way into the millions with less than $300 and was virtually homeless. I studied. I asked questions of those who had done similar things successfully before me, I made calls, I got rejected, I tried again, more rejection, and finally some breaks. Be persistent. There will be obstacles. Many in fact. And yes, talent and some intelligence is great, but persistence and a positive will see you through. Keep your mind, body, and soul healthy. Sleep, eat healthily, exercise, and work twice as hard as anyone else you know doing something similar, like a competitor. And just when you think you can't work anymore, take a short break and work more You will make errors. But you wil learn from those errors. And you will love the new you, that is a promise.
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