The Internet of Women: 1996 But No One Would Listen

Ada cartoon
Ada Lovelace, Computing Pioneer

Women were always going to thrive on the Internet.  Connecting, enabling connections among others, sharing information and more importantly, support and wisdom — these are some of the reasons we belonged online from the beginning.  I knew it as soon as I saw my first browser, Mosaic (later Netscape) in the early 90s.

After early obscurity, women have become more and more visible and successful online, not only creating content but entire media operations. Numbered among them were the pioneering iVillage and BlogHer and agencies like Clever Girls, BlogaliciousWomen and Work,  Sway Group, and The Motherhood.  There are plenty more.

When I saw this story today about the emerging Internet of Women, led by Cisco’s Monique J. Morrow, I’ll admit I got a little sad. I had tried to write a handbook (Internet Bootcamp) for women online in 1996.   A friend hooked me up with a celebrity agent I could have never enlisted on my own, and my proposal went to some serious publishers.  The response – and I wish I still had the precise language, was that the writing was “engaging” but women would never buy such a book.  I just pulled it to take a look and am posting it here.  See what you think.   If nothing else it will evoke memories of modems past.

Here is Morrow’s basic message: (We agree, right?)

From connected homes and cars to monitoring our health through smart devices, a woman’s view point in this new age of digitization has never been more critical.

I invite you to follow our publication, the Internet of Women and be part of this movement.


Josh_and_cindy_in_muir_woodsThat’s me with my older son, Josh, in Muir Woods outside San Francisco  — pretty many years ago.  I don’t know if you can tell but I’m pregnant with his brother.  Happy to join the virtual shower although despite my adoration of and respect for both Liz and Catherine, I’m from the generation that put their babies to sleep on their stomachs and so may sound a little old-fashioned.

1. Don’t do anything that doesn’t feel right no matter whose advice it is. 2. Trust yourself. 3. Remember that everybody makes mistakes and anyway a child is not a product, she is a person. You’ve heard that kids are resilient. They are. Do your best with love and if you don’t dwell on your mistakes neither will they. 4. You can’t turn a child into someone. You can only help them become the best somebody they already are. 5. Don’t be afraid to say no. Parents who don’t set limits and help their kids learn self-discipline are selfish. It’s easier but it’s not right. 6. No experience is wasted on a child. Maybe they’re too young to remember, but if it happened, it had an impact. So share as much of what you love as you can – music, museums, trips to Timbuktu or Target — poetry, cooking, washing the car. 7. No child ever went to college in diapers. 8. Listen to experienced people you respect, preschool teachers, friends, even, God forbid, your mother.  Experience really is a great teacher.  Then, though, think it through and then do what you think is right. 9. Everything is not equally important. Pick your fights and win them. 10. Leave time to just be. Lessons are great but quiet time is where imagination and a sense of self emerges. 10. LISTEN to your kids. They are smart and interesting and wise and if you respect them you have a far better chance of having them respect you. 11. Did I say trust yourself?

With love, admiration and the joy that comes from knowing all you wonderful, poetic and caring, committed and in one case, very new mothers on the occasion of this lovely virtual baby shower.