If there were a "Internet Addicts Anonymous", I would really have to think long and hard deciding whether I would or would not join.
Having been online since the late 1980's I used a service called CompuServe, which was before AOL, Netscape, Yahoo and Google had been born, and the roadway to the internet was just opening.
Switching from CompuServe to AOL in 1993 opened up a whole new world to me. I quickly came across an area in Finance called the Motley Fool, which at the time existed only on AOL. It was a small community of people learning how to invest, along with a number of already savvy stock brokers , and more than likely some unsavory characters who trolled around the message boards and chat rooms hyping their penny stocks.
Two brothers, Tom and David Gardner, founded the site and showed up nightly to run the chat rooms, which numbered two if there was an overflow from chat room number one.
If you had followed their online portfolio when it began you would have quadrupled your money so many times you might have trouble counting it. I got to know Tom and David from the nightly chats. When their first book was released and people were lined up to meet them I simply put my hand out to Tom and said, "Hi", and used my sign on to identify myself. Tom immediately recognized me from my sign on, and after their publicist recognized me too, he made a formal introduction, using my name. We remained friends though the years.
Today of course, there can be no chat rooms where you pop in and talk to Tom and Dave, the Fool has expanded many times and become an internet site open to all with millions of online visitors taking from it whatever their needs may be.
I might add that my husband to be at the time gave me a certain amount of money to invest for him and by the end of year one I had outperformed all his professional money managers. (Of course to be honest, I had no restrictions on my investments, and I was heavily weighted in internet technology stocks.)
So that's my beginning online.
Since then I created a website called "Tonos.com" I partnered with two great producer/songwriters, David Foster and Kenny "Babyface" Edmonds. Together we recruited the most talented producers in every genre of music. We put our music online and let people write to our melodies and lyrics. We ran contests as we looked for artists and writers. Our mission was to level the playing field in the music business and to give everyone who had talent and access to a computer the same chance to be directed to the best producers, publishers and labels in the music industry.
Bottom line, we folded our doors because we were dealing with mostly young musicians who by their second month of membership were tapped out. We tried. We were there two years before American Idol. We were just too early.
Through the years I found and continue to find so many wonderful sites online which often lead me to others and still others, (thus the term; surfing the web) Whatever my interests -- which often change with my needs and moods -- I discovered a site that fit. I found games to play, in ways that were mindless and for me almost meditative because they allowed me to zone out. I found word games that kept me on my toes and card games that challenged my memory.
I also found so many extraordinary travel opportunities. The moment I know which country my husband and I might be visiting, I hop online, go through a number of my travel sites, and invariably I discover the best hotels before the travel agent suggests them. I've even found a few hotels they hadn't yet heard of, one or two became our favorites.
Recipes, shopping sites, film reviews, music on iTunes, online rhyming dictionaries for when I am actually working writing songs, art sites, auction sites, gourmet sites, chocolate sites, vegan sites, education sites, and finance. You can find charitable sites that interact with you allowing you to give money online, choosing causes that mean the most to you. Political sites and blogs, entertainment sites, pet sites, finding the rarest of dogs, seeing the available puppy and it's family from breeders you trust, Amazon, EBay, for buying and selling on, YouTube, MySpace, IMDB, kid friendly sites, beauty sites, sites to play Poker on, health Sites, online pharmacies, photography sites, phones and camera sites, green sites, spiritual sites, and automobile sites. I am exhausting myself just thinking about how many places I have visited and liked enough to bookmark.
I want you to benefit from my addiction, which I just decided not to give up.
Here are two sites you might enjoy visiting. One for fun and fascination and one for when you have the urge to giveback.
From Musematic.com, I recommend, Jackson Pollock by Miltos Manetas.
I'm dying of curiosity about what the Intellectual Property implications of this site may be. But in the meantime I'm having an awful lot of fun creating my own drip paintings. Great site for creative pursuit when you're put on hold on the phone.
A site for Giving Back: Donors Choose.org
I love this site so much that my husband, Bob Daly, and I opened the Los Angeles Branch of Donor's choose 2 years ago. At the time it was in only five or six cities. Today it is now in every major city in America. Personally I love the idea of funding a project for a classroom and teacher in need and becoming an instant philanthropist at any level of giving you choose.
Here is how Donorschoose.org describes itself.
DonorsChoose.org is a simple way to provide students in need with resources that our public schools often lack. At this not-for-profit website, teachers submit project proposals for materials or experiences their students need to learn. These ideas become classroom reality when concerned individuals, whom we call Citizen Philanthropists, choose projects to fund. Proposals range from "Magical Math Centers" ($200) to "Big Book Bonanza" ($320), to "Cooking Across the Curriculum" ($1,100). Any individual can search such proposals by areas of interest, learn about classroom needs, and choose to fund the project(s) they find most compelling. In completing a project, donors receive a feedback package of student photos and thank-you notes, and a teacher impact letter.
If you check out these sites, let me know what you think. OR send me your own favorites. You can use the Huffington Post comments function below.
So, in internet speak, ttyl. (talk to you later).