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Name: Matthew Haughey (retired)
Joined: day one
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About

What's the deal with your nickname? How did you get it? If your nickname is self-explanatory, then tell everyone when you first started using the internet, and what was the first thing that made you say "wow, this isn't just a place for freaks after all?" Was it a website? Was it an email from a long-lost friend? Go on, spill it.

I have a difficult-to-pronounce last name. Actually, that's not true, it's easy to pronounce, it's just that no one can do it correctly, given the mish-mash of consonants and vowels handed to them.

Anyway, when it was time to get my first shell account and email address in college, I wanted a phonetic version of my name, to remind people. It was an old VAX system, and had a max character limit of 8, so I couldn't get "matt_howie" or "matthowie" and instead had to smash it down to "mathowie." I thought it was self-explanatory, but I more often heard "Math Owie? Is that like some sort of algebra injury?" But no, it's just "Matt Haughey," spelled phonetically, and crammed into eight letters.

I started using Mosaic, Netscape 0.9 betas, and email in early 1995, and email became the killer app once I started getting more than a couple messages per day. It suddenly became the most important communication channel for me.

The web became something special when I got my first dialup at home and could just aimlessly surf. Previous to that, all surfing was done for research purposes, from a lab computer (this is back in 1995, when I was in a grad school environmental chemistry lab, and the web was only used for finding papers and data).

I have to admit that the first time I realized the web could be more than a movie quotes page or shrine to your favorite actor was when I read Creating Killer Websites by David Siegel. I know with the benefit of hindsight, many of his tips and tricks produce eyesores, are just plain bad advice, or worst of all, create content-free art spaces with horrible interfaces. But back then, it was the first time I saw an internet book go beyond HTML mechanics and say "you can make art with this stuff."

And so I did.

It was very crappy art, but it rekindled my love of art, and was the first time I experienced something so wonderfully artistic and technical at the same time. And then I just kept going.

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