The ‘Net of our efforts

New York Times report on March 8, 1999
New York Times report on March 8, 1999

Celebrated the birth of the Internet over the weekend.  The World Wide Web began 25 years ago.

Actually, it wasn’t a birth but an adoption.  Congress turned what was then “DARPANet” over to the National Science Foundation, taking the online service out of its secretive and classified world as an sharing of information (among those with a top secret or better clearance ) by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency to a pretty-much “anything goes” civilian world occupied by anyone with a computer  and a modem.

As a staff member of the House Committee of Science and Technology of Congress during that transition, I had a role in that transfer, working on the details because the committee had oversight authority of NSF.  We also dealt with computer issues with the National Security Agency (NSA).  Computer issues were part of my range of assignments at the time.

I started working with the Internet at the beginning, registering my name as a domain (dougthompson.com).  I had been a user of Compuserve, an early online service became popular in the 1980s along with America On-Line (AOL ).

The Internet became a logical next step. Those of use involved in the early days of the ‘Net gathered on Monday nights at a restaurant on Wilson Boulevard to swap ideas.  AOL founder Steve Case was part of the group.

Three years after the launch of the World Wide Web, I started a web-based political news site, Capitol Hill Blue.  It approaches its 22nd year of news reporting on October 1 and is the oldest news online operation devoted to coverage of the political world.  The Washington Post called Blue “a must-read for political junkies.”  We were featured in The New York Times, National Review magazine and MacWorld.

 

Stephen G Smith, editor of U.S. News & World Report, told Felicity Barringer of The New York Times that Blue “has caught on as an early warning sign of stories coming up.”

She also wrote:

It became clear last week that journalists in some corners of the mainstream press check in with Capitol Hill Blue. Last Monday, for the first time, The Hotline, the capital’s most widely used daily electronic tip sheet, used material from Capitol Hill Blue and a liberal site called American Politics. Hotline is a summary of all things political, from newspaper coverage of candidates to the most recent polling data.

Blue reached its peak in the 90s with our coverage of the sex scandal of President Bill Clinton and intern Monica Lewsinsky.  We broke several stories about Clinton’s womanizing.

That was before commercially-driven Internet political news operations like Politico and others began to dominate the online world. Blue was, and still is, a small operation.  It has had some good stories over the years.  We also made mistakes.  A source who claimed to have been a White House staff member under President Richard Nixon turned out to be a phony.  We had quoted hm and issued an apology to our readers.

Nowadays, I’m not sure if I own Capitol Hill Blue or if it owns me.  Updating news on a web operation is a 24/7 operation.  I crawl out of bed at 5 a.m. most days and start work on editing news and decided headlines and play  on stories that came in over night.  On most evenings, I at the computer past midnight.

I still have a day job as a contract reporter and photographer for BH Media, owner of The Floyd Press, The Roanoke Times, The Richmond Times-Dispatch and many other newspapers in Virginia, the South and around the country.  I also shoot video for a number of folks and host web sites for others.

Capitol Hill Blue turns 22 years old on October 1.  Will it continue?

Good question.  It will continue at least until the current carnival called the 2016 Presidential election ends with the November election.

After that, I don’t know.

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