The Way We Were. The Way We Shall Be? AOL's Coming Of Age
"Memories, Like the corners of my mind. Misty watercolor memories, Of the way we were."
Who can take a few simple lines and generate such sentimental goose-bumps of bitter/sweet loss, a yearning to go back in time to fix the regretful errors of yesterday and most of all, to regain our loss of innocence than Streisand?
With the re-emergence of AOL as the hot new media property - which other companies are once again jump-balling for - have we finally come full circle? Is the era we once created full throttle and then retreated in full throttle finally over?
Are we at the dawn of the next one? By all appearances, one would think so.
"Scattered pictures, Of the smiles we left behind, Smiles we gave to one another, For the way we were."
It began with Redford in all his youthful splendor running through campus with blue skies ahead as Barbara was ramping up to focus on all that was wrong in the world that needed fixing.
How different were they than when Silicon Alley interactive firms proudly labeled themselves "Pure Plays," meaning that they weren't hunkered down with lethargic, denial-based baggage that offline firms apparented had. Legacy-based agencies, publishers and marketing companies who's days of greatness were 20 to 30 years before, who barely remembered when they experienced the same growing pains similar to their younger equally brash new media tech companies. Why did it take so long for them to get back in touch with their original raison est très, when they too were bent on transforming the world.
Once upon a time, Steve Case was the Person In The News. Unstoppable, armed with ambition centered on tranforming the communication business, he had a keen eye to do so at the helm of the world's largest media company. He got his wish and then like everything Macheavelli predicted about empire building (yes, he should be known for more than "the ends justify the means") Case's meteoric rise destined him to have a meteoric fall, from grace, from the captain's deck and from leading the pack, once the bubble burst.
Today, is it any accident that his own mental and social healing from those glorious and gory days is his new project to promote society to find peace in itself, with his investing $20 million in producing and distributing yoga and Pilates videos? Not a bad idea from a guy who made hyperventiliation a daily breathing exercise to our national breathing. Are there any online manic, media and money-driven veterans who couldn't relate to some of that kind of therapy?
"Can it be that it was all so simple then, Or has time rewritten every line. If we had the chance to do it all again, Tell me - would we? could we?"
With new media now finally capturing social respect and business integration, have we learned lessons from our past? Can we avoid making the same mistakes? What others are we bound to make? Are we doomed to only ever be equipped to fight the last war? Or can we look forward and see the rough seas ahead and for once, develop a plan to avoid on-coming technological hurricane storms? Hubbell Gardner and Katie Morosky's inspiration and guidebook was titled, "A Country Made of Ice Cream." Can we do better?
The social battles of their post-war era ranged from the darker side of their angels with McCarthyism, black listing and a depressing realization of being in a perpetual global optimism-freezing cold war; to the fun-ner sides, their being distracted with new home appliances, TV and the creation of the suburbs.
"Memories, May be beautiful and yet. What’s too painful to remember, We simply choose to forget."
Having gone through our own personal '60's, '70's, '80's and '90's, it is now time to rededicate ourselves to a new adventure, a healing of the wounds. We should refuse to settle into a "Comfortably Numb" Pink Floyd-like.
The era of television and radio's before that, interactive and integrated media will direct and define the next age. Before we embark, let's ask ourselves some questions, which may prepare us to determine what knowledge we should bring along. Things like how do we increase security without bounding our voices and hands in chains and/or to use capitalism to keep the fire burning of advancement, yet always helps, not hurts humanity. In Kennedy's acceptance speech, "born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace," how different is that from our own current Madison Avenue-based excitement and bewilderment?
What questions should we ask ourselves as a Forked Dowsing stick to locate the troubled underground waters currently unseen now, beneath our feet?
1. Can we self-legislate ourselves without national political legislation that will undoubtedly restrict our healthy freedoms?
2. What social ailments will emerge, such as obsesity, which will surely rapidly advance heart disease and a greater tax on health care costs? Are we doing enough or is the fight just begun?
3. With steaming video racing onto the wireless screens, how can we prevent automobile and pedestrian accidents as people become too distracted to their tiny screens? Can we avoid on-coming accidents that will hurt those involved? Shouldn't we try, considering the damage that will undoubted be unleashed on the families who lose a loved one, due to a needless and avoidable crash?
4. Yet, also on a humorous level, will we ever find ourselves reminiscent and sentimental about state of the age tools, such as 3rd party servers, cell phones, rich media and email? And if so, what we will laugh about then, as surely we will. What will it feel like one day when email is extinct? That day may come faster than some of us think, or actually like.
In the end, Katie and Hubbell couldn't find a way to come to terms to with their differences, to maintain equilibrium without splitting apart, as we saw with Steve Case and his star-crossed love of AOL.
Take a good look at this industry; where we've come and where we are headed. Pretty soon, this moment will be no longer easily visible in our realtime digital rear-view mirror. Let's enjoy the moment, even sentimentally.
"So it is the laughter, We will remember, Whenever we remember, The way we were."