August 23, 2016

Happy Internaut Day


Today is the 25th anniversary of the Internet being opened to the public (outside of universities and governments).

Here are 10 facts about me and the Internet you might not know:

1. When I got online it was 1987 and the only two friends who I emailed with were Reuven Lerner and Tobie Strauss. I was on my Junior Year Abroad at Rothberg International School at the Hebrew University, Reuven was at MIT and Tobie was at Columbia. We had no graphic user interface but we could email and chat in real time from the command line. The first email was sent in 1971 by Ray Tomlinson to himself. He doesn’t remember what it said.

2. I was one of the first members of The Israel Internet Society which was founded in 1994.

3. When I registered there was no renewal fee so I paid once to register the domain name and never have to pay again. It pays to be an early adapter.

J-Town 1998 Website
J-Town’s website circa 1998

4. In 1996 American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee sent me to the Former Soviet Union to teach librarians what the Internet was. I also taught Jewish community leaders from the US, India, Israel and other countries.

5. I served in the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit and argued with my commanders for years before they agreed to have an email address and website. I was one of the founders of

6. I taught my first web design course in the year 2000 at Educom, a school set up for English-speakers to be trained in high tech in response to the high-tech bubble burst in Israel.

7. Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook profile number ID is 4. My friend Arie Hasit was the first non-founder to sign up for Facebook came after the three co-founders as user ID 7 (He was Mark’s suitemate at Harvard at the time). I joined Facebook in 2006 and had to write to my alma mater to get a college email address to join. Today I have over 2,000 friends on Facebook.

8. J-Town has helped hundreds of clients, but won’t work with anyone under any circumstance. I once refused to bid a contract for the Jewish Agency after they approached me but insisted that the site be created entirely in Flash. The first major website J-Town created was for the Joint (AJJDC). It was in Russian and English with over 1500 files.

9. The first tweet was sent on March 21, 2006 by Jack Dorsey. I joined Twitter on Sun. Feb. 3, 2008. Today Twitter has 250 million users and about 500 million tweets are sent every day. I have sent about 12,000 tweets and there are over 1,850 people following me on Twitter.

10. I have always advocated for the open-source, non-proprietary Internet and not being dependent on third-parties. Nonetheless in the beginning corporations tried to trap users with online “gated” communities. These included Prodigy, Compuserve, MSN (Microsoft), Sprint and AOL.

a) 2.58 million people still pay for AOL. At one point, AOL accounted for about 50% of all CD-Rom discs being made and paid over $300 million to mail all those CD-Roms.

b) There were over 38 million user-built webpages on Geocities before it was shut down in 2009. It was the third-most visited Web site on the World Wide Web when it closed.

c) Yahoo bought Flickr and gave users 1 year to move all their photos off of Yahoo Photos

d) People still make sites on WIX, Squarespace, etc. and have their business dependent on the third-party proprietary web

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