Mosaic and Maria Benet

Twenty years ago I loaded a Mosaic browser on my PC and began a new adventure in Internet exploration. A few years later, I took my first baby steps creating and loading content onto the World Wide Web. By 2001, I became part of a web of relationships, interpersonal linkages, that we now call “social networking.”  One of the people I met then was Maria Benet, a woman who blogged and wrote poetry, most definitely not in that order. Today, Maria’s twitter page says she’s an ex-poet. What can that mean? If you write, wrote, or in some cases if you intend to write poetry, you’re a poet. A poet is a poet and there’s no there there in Oakland, I think you must agree.

Today I’m musing about links and personal web presence. I’m not going to talk much about Facebook, Google+, twitter, or any of the other social networks that provide people with opportunities to share their thoughts and their work on the web. Maria is an interesting person, and an interesting study in public web presence. She had a blog called “Alembic.” I think I asked her one time if she’s related to the Alembic electronics family that emerged in Marin in the late sixties and she said she was not, but I appreciated the synchronicity none-the-less. And of course everybody’s only a few degrees of separation from everybody else. Consider Kevin Bacon….

Tidying up links on this blog, I saw that my link to Maria’s blog ( had rotted. Rather than delete her from the list here, I looked for another public web address where she is active and found her blog (small change blog), and I found her on twitter. Also, I found a project she started last winter, a photographic journal called “A Year of Mount Tamalpais.” I lifted this picture from that location…Photo by Maria Benet

Photo by Maria Benet

The project I lifted the above picture from is over. Maria still blogs at small change blog where she migrated after her domain name expired, and she’s working on a WordPress site called Marin Bytes. She tweets as @Alembic, and her friends can find her in the walled garden that is Facebook. Amazing the number of ramifications a web-head’s personality requires in the new age of social networking….

Time goes by and our virtual back fences get more and more convoluted, sort of cyber-Christo projects that require the participants’ engagement on a different level than we have known before. How many people actually click on the links they find in a tweet or a posting? The author put them there for a reason, but whether pressured by time or only superficially engaged, most readers fly right by the links and miss some of the allusive content that lends value to what they are reading. In the good old days, missing links were something else entirely, an evolutionary thing. “Missing lynx” of course refers to a lost bobcat, but that’s neither here nor there. In the old days, one could listen in on the party line (ask your grandma what a party line was) or a couple of neighbors could gossip over the back fence. People wrote letters and sometimes got replies. People read newspapers and magazines. Kids at camp and vacationers wrote postcards, usually with pictures on them, and no reply was really expected. All of those mediated conversations were well bounded. The same can not be said for conversations on the web.

I sent off a message to Maria letting her know that I was writing a post about her and asking for her permission to use the above photo. She got back to me faster than a letter in a bottle, faster than teh pony express, faster than airmail, faster–in fact–than the US Post Office could possibly manage. She got back to me so quickly you’d have thought we were connected by a series of tubes or something! I like the Internet for that and for the fact that so many talented people can make their work accessible. Thanks Maria, you’re a poet and , well… the conclusion is self evident.

Posted in People, Technology, Web Publishing
11 comments on “Mosaic and Maria Benet
  1. maria says:

    Oh boy … this takes me back. I remember Mosaic and my husband’s excitement when he loaded it to watch the comet Shoemaker-Levy in July 1994. I didn’t take to the browser-as-gateway to the online world until the first version of Netscape, which I used with my older son to write linked stories about a bird — which might have prefigured my hanging around on Twitter in an odd way, come to think of it.

    Thank you so much for this post. Several of my old “blog buddies” are celebrating significant anniversaries with their online presence, so I am strangely drawn to the virtual back fence these days, getting nostalgic for a lot of “missing links.” It’s such a pleasure to have a few of those links turn up and make for fresh conversations. And some come back like that “missing lynx” of your post, bringing news from the wilderness and issuing invitations for new adventures, even if of the virtual sort.

    • Back in the day a lot of us connected through the use of “blog rolls.” Mine grew unwieldy and I’ve had difficulty managing it for a long time. Whenever I feel moved toward blogging, free-range journalism, or whatever one might call it, I always start with tidying up. It was nice to convert the link update chore into a post. Thanks for being my missing lynx today, maria.

      • maria says:

        I see a number of people struggle with blog rolls these days. Keeping it up and active and as a “live” link, or a conversation at the fence, is harder these days. I still haven’t found a way to manage mine. Your way of tidying up is inspirational.

  2. Doug Alder says:

    Wow – the memories – it was late in 1993 or very early in 1994 when I first loaded Mosaic on my Packard Hell 386SX 16 and no looking back since – thanks Frank

  3. Doug Alder says:

    Of course prior to Mosaic – the first graphical browser there was the fun of Lynx (and Archie, Veronica, Gopher and the other protocol specific browsers) – I can’t say I’m missing Lynx but it was fun at the time

  4. Doug Alder says:

    I like your idea of the backyard fence Frank – lately I’ve been pulling back my online presence – the older I get the harder it is to stay heavily involved but I do like to keep talking on occasion with those who, off and on, I made the journey with these past two decades. Occasional twitter post but mostly just G+ now and mostly for my photography

    And Maria – I remember your Alembic site. I was one of those lurkers 🙂

  5. I was way behind all of you in planting my roots in that big web, but I remember those old back-fence days after I settled in. While I still only use the technology that is simple enough for me to navigate, and while I’m not blooming as fruitfully as I used to, my roots are still here, and the 6 degrees still hold. So glad you are al still here.



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