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My Internet History

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I’ve been trawling the Way Back Machine lately for links & images for my recently re-added geek t-shirts collection page (work in progress), and happened upon a link to a page I used to have: “My Internet History”. I don’t have this page any more, it was one of the things I dropped when I tried to make my site more “professional” (ha) but as my audience now and my audience 6 years ago are fairly different I thought it’d make an interesting blog post & give a little insight into where “this” all began. Here goes (written in 2008)…

I first started venturing online in 1999 when my Mum showed me ICQ and said that I could use it to talk to my Grandad. I’d hold conversations for with him and with Mum’s friends for hours, simply because I didn’t understand the scope of this great network of pages that we call the Internet. ICQ was the beginning and the end, as far as I knew.

It wasn’t long before I discovered that there was much more to the Internet than the flowery chat client, and began exploring the likes of Neopets. I had a Jubjub, and a small shop, moved on to run a successful guild, co-own another and then staff at one of the largest in Neopia. I could waste hours on there, without a care for my exams that were approaching. It was on Neopets I first got introduced to HTML, and that’s where this all began.

A simple sign-up at Geocities found me the space I was looking for, and I began creating pages using my limited HTML knowledge and Geocities’ pagebuilder. I created a successful poetry site for teens and kids to read and submit poetry; the site is still associated with me since my move to hosting and a domain of my very own (Google took about 3 years to figure out I don’t offer poetry anymore.)

It took me several months to get any content up on to my shiny new website, and even longer to learn HTML. I kept at it, snatching up any opportunity to practise and hanging on to every piece of good code I ever wrote. It took me over a year to even begin to grasp the basics of CSS (because there weren’t as many tutorial sites back then) and another before I knew the rest. I grabbed standards with both hands in 2003, and have been researching into accessibility and usability since.

In 2004 I started looking at this ‘thing’ called PHP — I started using a popular skinning script and even installed a toplist ‘program’ (which, incidentally, was complete crap and led to the defacement of my domain and deletion of hundreds of files). I started dabbling with Content Management Systems such as WordPress and in 2004 wrote my very first script. That script was a massive failure but eventually became what you know as BellaBook today.

2005 was a big year for me — I took several tumbles, coding-wise, but managed to pick myself up and in August 2005 wrote my own weblog with integrated article commenting management system. Although the backend went through many changes over a few years, it was eventually retired when my website outgrew the scope of the script. I have also developed CMS for a handful of my other websites and developed Intranet ‘packages’ for Telford College of Arts and Technology as part of work experience and my first job.

Besides jemjabella, I own and run several separate sites — tutorialtastic being a key point of concentration for me. I took over the running of the quilting bee in May 2006 after having provided programming and technical support for over a year. I maintain the pages, deal with the copious amounts of e-mail as well as processing new members. When I’m not working on my own sites, this is where my time goes.

BellaBook is still going, and used on millions of websites worldwide. Tutorialtastic went on to become Girls Who Geek. I still have the quilting bee although my role in the site is purely to keep the forum up to date at the minute. My time ‘goes’ on much more than the Internet and my websites now though, but that’s what having kids does for ya!

Jem Turner jem@jemjabella.co.uk +44(0)7521056376

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