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Would you believe my site is entering its twelfth year?

March 22, 2007, 1:52 AM

Believe it or not, it’s true. Schumin Web completes its eleventh year of existence tomorrow, and so then the site will be eleven going on twelve.

As I say every year, I’m amazed to think about it. I look back at where we’ve been as a collective group (you, me, and the Web site), and I also try to look forward to where we’re heading.

I also find it somewhat funny to think about how my life was way back in 1996 when I started this site. I was a freshman at Stuarts Draft High School. I wore no glasses, but I did wear a retainer. I had great hair that I didn’t have to photoshop (remind me to elaborate on that later). I wore Airwalk sneakers. The Previa was running in tip-top condition as Mom’s car, and I rode in it regularly – as a passenger. Greta was only two years old. Washington DC was a city that was far away, and I could count on my hands how many times I’d visited it. My computer was a 90 MHz Pentium with 16 MB of RAM and a 1 GB hard drive running Windows 95. Bill Clinton was in his first term as president. I had a mild crush on my first-year Spanish teacher. I was too uptight to discuss fire alarms with anyone, but instead held a silent interest. My Internet service provider was America Online. My bedroom had white walls. My watch was synchronized with the master clock in the school office so I would know exactly when the bell would ring. Netscape was considered the hip Web browser.

I also look at how the focus of this site has shifted over the years. Originally, it was strictly whatever. I would make a page for something, and I would write about it. No sections, no sorting. Just add it to the menu and go. I would regularly update a page called “News of the Week”, which was basically about whatever was going on in my life. I would often grouse about school on there. The page was expendable, though – I kept no archive of what I wrote from week to week. Then later, we went to frames, which allowed me to keep the menu on screen all the time. I now consider frames to be a hideous concept, but back in the mid-1990s, they were the latest fad. They remained until September 1999.

I went through a few different titles for the site early on. From March to September 1996, I was “Ben Schumin’s Home on the Internet”. Then from September 1996 to September 1997, I called it “Ben Schumin’s Internet Command Center”. Then from September 1997 to July 1998, I called it “The Great American Road of Ben Schumin”. Then from July to October 1998, I called the site “The User-Friendly World of Ben Schumin”. In October 1998, I settled on “The Schumin Web”, which seems to have staying power. The current logo arrived on scene in July 1999.

In 1998, I also revisited the “News of the Week” concept, though in a different way than before. Now, I placed it right on the front page, and titled the article with a quote – sometimes real, sometimes made up to fit the text. The original quote was “Open mouth, insert foot.” Melissa Steele, a classmate in my 12th grade physics class, spoke it.

In 2000, I got my first Sony Mavica, and I began to create what eventually became known as “photo sets”. There was originally no category for it. I had so few early on that they just sat in the one single menu for the site. Then later on in 2000, I introduced sections for the first time. The first sections were “Main Event”, “Archives”, “Major Areas”, “Online Store”, “Web Cam”, and “Writings”. Photo sets were originally lumped into “Main Event” (present-day Odds and Ends), before getting their own “Photo Essays” section.

I consider one of the greatest additions to this site to be my Journal, which basically replaced the quote, though the two ran side by side for a year and a half before the quote was discontinued. Now, I could write about anything from anywhere, and not be encumbered by a set format. My Journal is still a big free-for-all for me, and I love it.

Then beginning in the mid-2000s, my site has become increasingly political. In late 2002, I ran a set in Photography called Protesting Against the World Bank. On that particular DC trip, my main goal was to photograph the George Washington Masonic Memorial. I ended up finding out at Vienna that a protest was going on about the World Bank, an institution that up until then, I’d never heard of before. Looking back at this photo set, I had no clue what the hell I was doing. Of course, I had never been to a protest before. And nowadays, I don’t consider this to be one I officially “covered”, because I missed all the action. I just got some stuff on the edges without getting to the “meat” of it. I really got “into” things with my first real protest, which became A Protest Against the War. I still was very much a photographer on that one, and not a participant. Once protests moved to Life and Times, and I started offering more analysis and more commentary, did things really start getting political. And when I really started talking politics in the Journal did it seal the deal.

Like I’ve said before, I’m as amazed as anyone to see what the site has been through. And I’m always looking ahead…

Web site: The Schumin Web

Song: Newer-style theme to Family Feud

Quote: "Eleven years... wow..."

Categories: Schumin Web meta