I have a very small group of people in Singapore whom I have an exceptional soft spot for – people who were from the early web community, back in those days when the web isn’t such a distinct part of our lives.
There were some I haven’t had the opportunity to meet in person, mostly because my involvement in the community was mostly online, and I avoided meetups like plague because meeting people in general was not a very pleasant experience for me.
In those early days we were coming out of an era ruled by either flash-based or asp-based dynamic websites, there was once upon a time when developing in PHP was cool too. Contributing to the open-source community wasn’t a thing in Singapore.
Before twitter there were blogs for a long time. Some of these people I’ve gotten to know from an ambient-like asynchronous connection, by reading what they had to say and what they worked on. IRC, forums, comments and RSS were bridges for us.
I finally had the opportunity to meet two of these people yesterday. We have had followed each other on twitter for the longest time and prior to that I had probably stalked their websites for a while. I made a joke that it was easy for me to confuse the two of them, because they both contributed to Firefox, loved anime enough to mention it as part of their bios, and they both worked for Wego, a startup formed in Singapore at a time when nobody knew what startups were (Some people still don’t).
Through the asynchronous connection made possible by twitter, in those years which followed we were essentially silently supporting each other’s work. It is incredible to say this now, but there was really a time when being a designer or a developer was basically frowned upon.
They probably didn’t know this, but I have an immense sense of gratitude towards people who knew me then. The community that was there for me and for other people who needed to have one.
A sense of community.
Which ironically did not come to me from the traditional areas of life, but was given to me in a digital space.
It seemed like a full-circle to me that I was able to bring them around to my favorite spots in the Mission, showing them the parts of San Francisco that I deeply fell in love with.
We were all very different individuals, from vastly varying backgrounds and life stories, with divergent trajectories and hopes – but all of that didn’t matter when we were all bridged by the work we all love to do, made possible by the lack of a physical distance across ones and zeroes.