I was finishing up my undergraduate studies at Western Washington University, my dear friend and mentor Bob Hayes had pinned something to the white cork board in the Digital Lab (Bond Hall 428 -- from hence force considered hallowed ground for many reasons I can explain later). The scrap of paper he pinned to the board was a quote from John Perry Barlow, and the quote read as follows:

Cyberspace ... has a lot in common with the 19th century West. It is
vast, unmapped, culturally and legally ambiguous, verbally terse ....
hard to get around in, and up for grabs. Large institutions already
claim to own the place, but most of the actual natives are solitary
and independent, sometimes to the point of sociopathy.
It is, of course, a perfect breeding ground for both outlaws and
new ideas about liberty.
   -- John Perry Barlow, 1990

It was a message so profound to me then. It certainly was teetering on the edge of genius. Still, how could we not relate to this?


While working as a Software Engineer at the now defunct NovX company (web site back-end developer) before the existence of yahoo.com, Internet Explorer, let alone google, I registered this domain name spin-off.com.

At the time, registering a domain-name did not involve the using the web. Nor did it cost money. One simply downloaded a template text file, filled out the blanks and emailed it back to a special address processed by (what was then called the InterNIC). InterNIC eventually became NetworkSolutions, Inc. But that's another story.

I chose the name spin-off.com to poke fun at the emergence of "spin off" companies that were sprouting up all over the place in this fertile ground we knew as the World Wide Web. We (those on the inside) knew that this was going to be absolutely huge, but to be honest we didn't know this was just the beginning of a very twisted and painful metamorphosis into a corporate dominated greed factored cesspool.

And it is. It is a cesspool.


Around the corner from the office was the very local bookstore Elliot Bay Book Company (when they were on 1st Avenue) and at lunch I would go get a cup of coffee and brownie. Their newsstand was par excellence. One morning I strolled in and on the stand was the latest edition of Red Herring magazine with a cover of a man holding an infant and emblazoned on the cover the caption read "SPIN-OFF.COM". No one from Red Herring had contacted me before hand. I would have assumed they would have, right? But back then, who the hell cared. I bought the issue and framed it. It reaffirmed that someone else got the joke. I didn't have to explain it.

I asked a resident graphic artist, Katie Meyer to help me out and she crafted the spinning-top with bit-stream spew from the point and formed the logo. (Thank you Katie, never got tired of it!).

I could have done something useful with the domain, but instead I just held on and waited. Waited for what? I cannot even remember. Now it's an item of importance only because it reminds me of the way things used to be on the web, (or rather just before there was a web).


Fast forward... What would have been something that Bob absolutely understood -- federated free open communication -- via ActivityPub and Mastodon, (and other means). Behold, my instance in the #Fediverse ...

Finally a spin-off .

© 1994