A “personal story” on a business blog? Why not. People relate better to people, everybody knows that. eBiz Miami might not mean a great deal by itself to a lot of people. But a little personal history of its creator, especially when it has to do with his “evolution” as a professional, should only help strengthen a business relationship, one would hope.
Drawing on my Desktop Publishing background, I caught the “Internet” fever at its beginnings. In 1996, as a Masters student in Journalism & Mass Communications at University of South Carolina – Columbia, I started playing around with a two-inch thick HTML textbook. It had been sitting on my Teaching Assistant desk for weeks, when I decided to yield the advice of one of my colleagues. “This is the future, right here!” – he had said, with a dead-serious air, looking me straight in the eye: “You’re good at graphics, you have that eye for putting things together visually. Start learning this (he was tapping his finger on the thick book), people will need it in the future!” He wasn’t kidding, either! “But I’m not a programmer” – I replied. “It’s not programming!” – he shouted over his shoulder, as he was exiting my office. “And what the heck does that have to do with journalism?” – but he was already gone. He was right, though. It was something else, totally new, that was about to change the world. It had a “geeky” name: Hyper-Text Markup Language, and it was already beginning to “interlink” the world at an amazing speed. But seriously, I really wasn’t a programmer! And I am still not one today! However, I was enticed by the challenge of bringing an entire layout to life on the screen by typing in primitive lines of code. Little did I know that I was starting a career.
A few months later I was holding my first Web Designer job at Air South, a local airline that had just entered the market. When the first WYSYWIG software came up, much like PageMaker but for web pages, I was hooked. I was happy that I didn’t need to type by hand every single line of code to make things look “pretty” on the screen. But to this day, I find myself “fiddling” with lines of code, be it Java Script, CSS or XML and the hours spent with that 2-inch thick and 10lb-heavy book sure come in handy! Two years later, when the airline company went “under”, I was already an “experienced” web designer and my next “creative gig” din’t wait long: I started working for another local “startup”: Outdoor Ads. Today they are the largest privately-owned display advertising agency in that market. Then, in 1999, for family reasons, I had to move to Miami. It was going to be for a few months. I’m still here! Now I’m proud to call it “my home”!
The World Wide Web and the Internet evolved to where it is practically impossible today to imagine some of life’s simplest tasks without it. When was the last time you wrote a hand letter, ran to the post office, bought the stamp, licked it thoroughly, stuck it to the envelope, licked that too, shook it so it dries out, dropped it in the mailbox and sent it on its way? I’ve been doing my taxes on-line for years and paying my bills there, too. I seem to remember that there were once some things called checks, where I was writing by hand a specific amount, signing my name and and bringing them in person every month, to the utility company in Columbia, SC! Yes, I know, there are still people who do some of those “tedious tasks” today. But that’s part of the reason that my company was created: I discovered, much to my surprise, that not everybody around me, no matter if younger or older, would be as eager to learn and keep up the pace with this new, ever changing “technology.” While that is not really “life threatening” on a personal level (hey, licking that stamp might still bear some sentimental value for some), it is a proven fact that for businesses small and big, ignoring the trend can leave them in the dust, licking nothing but their own wounds after a battle they didn’t even know they fought. So maybe my new labor of love, eBiz Miami, could do some good.
If my fellow grad student, who saw the “future” in a 2-inch thick HTML book, would have told me that one day there would be “virtual houses and shops” for people and businesses, where they can do everything from displaying family pictures or art pieces to selling their products in “digital shopping carts”, I would have thought he was dreaming. Furthermore, if he would have told me that I, myself, would end up an expert at building those places, one day, quite literally, I would have called him Jules Verne. Yet, here I am, 14 years later, having added tons more to the knowledge found in that big, heavy HTML book. What’s more important, I’m finally confident enough to answer my own question from that time: “What does that have to do with journalism?” The answer, one word: EVERYTHING. Yes, it’s programming, yes, it’s “digitizing”, designing, planning, developing and building everything with zeros and ones just as you would with brick and mortar. But, at its core, in its purpose and through its means, it is and it will remain linking, interconnecting. Say what? COMMUNICATING! Journalism, anybody? Mass communication? I rest my case.
Today my company, eBiz Miami, is helping other businesses grow by providing full internet services, from hosting to building and marketing their web sites. Yes, we also trouble shoot their networks and computers and we educate and train on pretty much anything technological that they need to run a business smoothly. But in the end, it all comes down to “communicating” the right message to the right audience.