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Derek M. Powazek

Virtual Communities
Two words that point to the idea that we are all important.
Derek is probably the premier practitioner and guide of this idea.

About you

What did you do before the Web?

I waited for the web, mostly.

Before the web, I ran gonzo newspaper that hated having to take advertising to pay for publishing the issues. If only there was a way to put our stories out without having to take advertising, some wonderful medium that was free for all.

Before that I was an aspiring songwriter who ran an open mic in the Hungry Slug in Santa Cruz, surrounded by the most talented musicians, all of whom dreamed of being able to easily circulate their songs to the world. If only there was some way.

Before that was high school, where I ran an author's club after school as some kind of haven for the freaks like me. We sat around the trees of the park above Claremont High, where the bad kids went to smoke between classes, and read poetry and stories like the pathetic outcasts we were, each of us pining for contact with others like us. If only there was some way to reach out and meet people based on what they thought and felt, instead of how they looked....

How did you find the web?

1995. Drinking beers with Grif. He pulled me in front of his mac to show me his new PPP connection to the UCSC computers. He showed me Anarchie. Fetch. And then Mosaic. Little did I know, I was looking at the answer to all my "if only's"....

Why are you here?

To try and create the world I want to live in. To figure out who the hell I am. To connect with like minds.

Methods of production

What do you use to create your sites?

An undying optimism, a belief in the the unspoken goodness of the average Joe, and coffee. Lots of coffee.

About the Web

What do you see as the greatest strengths of the web?

The fact that the web (well, really, the net) was built by nerds for purely altruistic reasons means that the spirit of collaboration, community, anti-consumerism, and self-expression are at the core of everything we do here. Is it any surprise that the web is lousy at making anyone rich? So long as the web enables everyone to have a voice, it will continue to be the single greatest invention, well, in my lifetime, at least.

What do you see as the greatest dangers?

To the same degree that the net enables anyone to reach out to the world and seek connection, it also enables people to reach out with darker motives. The net didn't create scams, hoaxes, and flames, it just made them a hell of a lot easier.

What would you say to folks who want to work the web?

Study something else. The web is like voice - everybody's got one. The trick is having something to say.

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Derek Powazek
Derek M. Powazek

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