My love affair with the internet began in 1998 when as luck or good fortune would have it, I had two epiphanies within a week.
I was living in my VW Kombi van on a DropZone outside of Sydney when a friend & peer brought over the 3rd in the series of skydiving videos from the US called the “Freefly Chronicles”.
We had all watched chronicles 1 & 2 several hundred times in the preceding 2 years and were so beside ourselves with excitement to see Chronicle III that we could hardly wait to get everyone together before pushing play.
As the title suggests this trilogy of short films chronicled the emergence of a new type of 3 dimensional skydiving discipline called “freeflying”, created by this crazy creative genius German dentist called Olav Zipser.
At that time Freeflying was being decried by mainstream skydiving as nothing more than a fad. The discipline of the time, “relative work” (4 way or 8 way sequential skydiving in one, belly to earth, body position) was considered “serious skydiving” namely by virtue of the fact that it could be measured and qualified through competition, but also because that is what all the “top” skydivers of the day were into. Freeflying on the other hand was just some inverted head down craziness that a bunch of drug crazed freaks were doing out in the California and Arizona deserts. Like other fads within the sport it was commonly believed that freeflying would come and go.
But what I noticed in chronicle 3 was different. A pattern of clear, quantifiable progress. The progress in skill and ability, imagination and possibility that this core group of free flyers were making was incredible. Not only was it pushing the boundaries of the possible, it had progressed in a way that was now clearly measurable. The progress between chronicles 1 & 2 and again between 2 & 3 was clear to anyone, but, having read Alvin Toflers “future Shock” some years earlier I had made a habit of studying social and technological change and as such I connected the dots a little differently. I could see clearly in my minds eye a graph, with time on the X axis and progress on the Y axis and the trend line that continued like Moore’s Law to progress up and up and up on an infinitely exponential curve.
As the credits began to roll I stood up in front of the screen and with passion and conviction announced to a room full of my best friends & peers that I was going to the US!
Shortly there after a friend “hooked me up to the Internet” with my first Hotmail account, while another taught me about Internet banking. I didn’t as yet own a computer and had no real interest I doing so, but a few days after watching this video I got a copy of the US skydiving magazine and emailed 4 different drop zones that were advertising for instructors. I could not believe my eyes when within a week I had 4 positive replies. All 4 were encouraging and offering me work. That was my when I had my second epiphany. This was the most powerful tool in the world!
As an avid reader I had learned that the pen was mightier than the sword, but at that moment I knew at the very core of my being that this internet was infinitely more powerful still. If I, a lowly skydiver living in Kombi van could change my life so quickly through the power of Connection, what else were people much smarter than me doing around the world now that their minds were able to be connected? It made my blood pump faster just to think about it. I knew deep down that this was a profound new force for good. but I had no idea at that time how much a part of my life the Internet would become. For now I was gong to America on what was for me, something akin to a holy pilgrimage. I was on a spiritual quest to my personal Mecca in search of knowledge and understanding. Not only for myself, but like all of my skydiving brothers and sisters, to share and disseminate to the very best of my ability. And so I went. I was 27 years old.