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Where we you when ... ?

I was managing editor of the Wichita Falls newspaper when I first heard about the World Wide Web, although when I heard about it, it wasn't called that.

My copy desk was comprised of tech-savvy people who discovered "bulletin boards," especially one erected by our chief of police.

And they had learned how to use a crude version of e-mail.

They did not exactly let me in on these advances.

Instead, I stumbled into the Internet at a national Associated Press Managing Editors convention in Dallas. One of the sessions was about the Internet, although they did not call it that, and I was completely dumbfounded by what I saw presented.

I would like to say I instantly recognized the impact the Web could have on information technology ... and I did.

I hurried back to Wichita Falls and pulled together my most technologically informed staff members and tasked them with finding out everything they could, with the idea that we would explore how to use the Web to extend the reach of the newspaper, how we could monopolize it to keep our franchise.

Some months later, it appeared that our corporate managers had picked up on the potential, and they decided that all Web-oriented tech advances would be coordinated through them, thus centralizing the process and leaving me and my techies out of the whole thing.

And that's the story of my life with the Web. Corporate headquarters trying to lead innovation, but actually slowing everything down.

It was all hugely frustrating, right up to the end of my career two years ago.

The American-Statesman has some remembrances in Sunday's paper about where various folks were when they learned about the Web. Many of them had a much less frustrating time of it than I did. It's a recommended good read.

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