Toronto. My title of this post is with apologies to musician Lou Reid and Author the late Nelson Algren (Walk on the Wild Side). The world wide web (WWW), conceived by Sir Tim Berners-Lee, was presented in 1989 using the Hyper-text Markup language (HTML). The web was initially designed to share scientific papers amongst universities over the internet. It went live in CERN in 1990 and outside CERN in 1991.
Five years later, in 1996, we had our first web site live. Most members were puzzled. At our February meeting in 1997, I did a talk called “Take a Walk on the Web Site” to introduce computers, the internet and the web to our members who for the most part left computers to their children or grand children.
Today, the web has been inundated by commerce, porn, social sites (Facebook, Youtube, Pinterest, etc.), search engines (Google, Bing, Duck-Duck-Go, etc.), and more. It is rapidly becoming passé especially to the younger generation who are into texting, twittering, and video gaming.
On our 25th Anniversary, I wrote the following: “Over the years, the PHSC has been much more than a source of camera goodies. It has also provided valuable friendships and opportunities to grow and learn. It was just such a challenge from President Les Jones in the early days of 1996 that pushed me and the society on to the internet and the World Wide Web.
“The Web surfaced as a feature of the internet in 1990, designed to help small groups of scientists exchange technical information. By 1995, many of the personal computer hobbyists were leaving the old bulletin boards to embrace the new and exciting Web. At the time, I was using an Amiga which had neither internet support nor a browser, relegating me to the sidelines to listen to people like the late Bob McMann waxing enthusiastically about this new toy. By the end of that year, Web programs were finally available for Amiga and I considered joining the PC and Mac crowd.
“I was prodded into action by a chance seating at dinner with other PHSC members early in 1996. While I discussed my thoughts of trying the Web, Les Jones, sitting across from me, suggested I check out the cost and feasibility of putting the society on the Web then report back to the executive. Les, with his fine sense of marketing and promotion had already considered a Web presence for the PHSC.
“Given the challenge, I bought a copy of HTML for Dummies and jumped into an exciting adventure. It quickly became evident that it was a simple matter to transform a written outline for each web page into actual HTML code. Over the next two months I tuned the first version of our site and received approval to proceed. On April 17th, 1996 the evening of our annual meeting, our web site was activated on a computer in Markham, Ontario. A few months later, the text-only pages were complemented with images and links. Our site became a means to share information and news with our members and other collectors around the world.
“In late August, 1999 I uploaded the current version of our site. This version is a major upgrade to both the look and architecture, introducing Cascading Style Sheets, and Mouse Over effects along with a smaller screen size and smaller image files to facilitate fast downloading and easy reading. My eldest daughter in Vancouver did the technical design. Since the new site was installed, I’ve added a separate page for most of the Toronto monthly-meeting events to augment the information published in the Toronto Notes column of the journal. The complete Photographic Canadiana Index for all 25 volumes is also available on our web page where you can do a search using your browser’s “search this page” tool for specific information.
“Since our site opened, the Web has become as commonplace as television, revolutionizing information gathering. The need for fast, effective infrastructure for the growth of the internet has driven the transformation of our communications industry. Today more data is carried by Ma Bell and her competitors than voice messages. The new optical network, needed for the Web, has helped drive the cost of a long distance call below the price of a postage stamp!
“And to think it was a conversation over supper with collectors of old cameras that pushed both myself and the society into the era of the Web… but five short years ago.”