In 2006 I sold my real estate business. Most of my friends wanted to know what I was going to do next. The truth was I had no real idea.
One evening, shortly after the sale contract was signed, I was out for dinner in Fremantle. Quite by chance I got talking to a young man from Holland who was in Perth for an Ultimate Frisbee competition. He told me that he owned a web design firm.
“Do you have someone looking after it while you’re away?” I asked naively.
He appeared bemused.
“No,” he explained patiently, “it’s an internet design firm. It’s based on the internet. I can run it from wherever I can get an internet connection.”
It took a moment for what he said to sink in.
“Wow, that’s it! How awesome would it be to have a job that allowed me to travel. Now that’s freedom!” I thought.
Right there I knew I’d found the direction for my career.
Over the days that followed I came up with a recipe for my next job or business. First, it would nod it’s head to the past but embrace something new. For me, that meant being associated with real estate but involved with new technology. Second, it should allow me the freedom to travel.
Armed with that formula I began to look for opportunities. The principal of a large real estate firm called to offer me the job of running a large team of property managers. I politely declined. And, just when it seemed that nothing would come my way, I read an ad in, of all places, the newspaper. It was for a new course in internet studies being offered by Curtin Uni. This was my opportunity to add the technology ingredient to my career recipe.
Within weeks I was enrolled.
Over the next two years I experienced the joy of laying under the pine trees at Curtin reading the works of Deleuze and Foucault. I started a blog and began to tweet. I wrote a 20,000 word honours dissertation. And I came to understand the way the internet both shaped and was shaped by society. At the end of my studies, the internet was no longer just wires and routers but a means by which I could reshape who I was.
Today, there’s very little of my life that’s not connected with the web. I use it to get my news, my music, and the movies I watch. I use it to connect with new people, communicate with my friends, and market myself and my businesses.
For me, the internet means freedom and free expression and I’ll always be thankful to have it in my life.
Image: Kristina Alexanderson