Synergy in the time of dial-up: Of webzines and HP and Intel’s Synergy ‘98

Once upon a time, before blogging became mainstream, I had a webzine called The Babel Machine Zone.

I launched it in 1998 when I was freelancing (a.k.a. bumming around), after leaving my full-time job as a staff writer for the Philippines’ pioneering information technology newspaper, Metropolitan Computer Times, and its sister publication, PCWeek Philippines, which was licensed from Ziff Davis.

I had a number of gigs after leaving that job, which was the first one I had as a tech journalist. I decided to put up this site because I discovered webzines and thought they were pretty cool, and because I wanted to embrace online journalism and write purely for the web. Instead of, you know, writing for a print publication and just having the same content uploaded on its website.

It was just a fun experiment while I was looking for paying gigs, and I had a great time teaching myself HTML, incorporating different interactive features on the site, and interacting with different people online.

And in an awesome turn of events, this webzine got me invited as a speaker when HP and Intel launched the first Synergy IT symposium in El Nido, Palawan in 1998. This was thanks to Richard Burgos, who was then with HP.

Synergy was his brainchild, and he invited me to talk about online journalism at the inaugural symposium, because of my webzine and the work I’d previously done for the IT publications I joined.

I think that’s the great thing about digital: that it’s a powerful platform that enables us to share our ideas, connect with different people, and make a difference — whoever we may be and wherever we may be in the world.

Embracing digital early on helped me interact with people of different nationalities from all walks of life, travel to different places, and make a lot of my dreams come true. If all this was possible during the days of dial-up, imagine what more we can do now.

Nothing is impossible. I truly believe that.

The only limits are the ones we create because of our failure to imagine.

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