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17958 Hughes, David Ralph 
 In the Beginning, There was the Well
Date: Wed, 27 Sep 2000 13:37:24 -0700
From: "Meeks, Brock" <Brock.Meeks@MSNBC.COM>
Brock Meeks, Chief Washington Correspondent, MSNBC
To: "'JackCushSr@aol.com'" <JackCushSr@aol.com>
Subject: About Dave

I understand that the West Point Society of Annapolis will nominate David Hughes for the US Military Academy's Distinguished Graduate Award for 2001.

I knew Dave long before I met him.  He appeared only as eloquent flashes of green phosphor that flowed across an ink black computer screen.  We were pioneers, Dave and I, searching for meaning beyond the meaning of our "mortal" worlds, seeking to reach beyond our own means using a new fangled technology called a modem. 

If I am the first reporter online, Dave is the first seeker and philosopher of the ether world, a place not yet known as "cyberspace."  I was seeking wisdom and sources beyond where my meager resources could take me.  All I had to do was stumble into Dave's virtual "Roger's Bar" and follow the digital bread crumbs he so graciously scattered about.

Before there was an "Internet" before there was the "digerati" before there was cyber-sex or "dot com" this or that, hell, before there was a god damn "world wide web" there was Dave and his Colorado City Bulletin Board System. Singular in practicality, it was a beacon of light in a dark uncharted sea, waving it's green lantern beckoning all who could find it at the end of a solitary phone line.

Within the confines of that BBS, from the real world of Roger's Bar to its virtual counterpart, Dave sparred with the issues of the day that confronted anyone adventurous enough, curious enough or just plain stupid enough to use a computer and "log on." 

Early on the digital world there was prejudice; their was a wide gap between those that could get online and those that already were--and more than a decade later no less than the Federal Government would validate those early morning ruminations by christening this the so called "digital divide." 

From this strange world of only words and thoughts and ideas, Dave lead the first crusades for user privacy, against information overload and issued dire warnings about government regulation. 

In between all these activities, he created "word dancing," which later became the foundation for successful chat rooms and was bastardized into cybersex. 

I eventually met Dave face-to-face after almost 10 years of knowing him, knowing of him and quoting him extensively in more articles than I can remember. 

I was punk kid, wet behind the ears and eager to push my new found medium to its edge.  I thought my energy was limitless; Dave's activities made me tired.  For a long while I believed he was a robot, some secret MIT invention created from the bowels of a silicon and plastic computer.  No one person could possibly do so much, so well with just 24 hours a day.

Long before there was the hype of wireless, Dave was a champion of such things and taking truly groundbreaking ideas, not to the venture capital vultures of Wall St. or Silicon Valley, but to the Indian reservations. 

The Electronic Frontier Foundation gave him a Pioneer's Award; in my book he deserves god damn Nobel Prize.  I write the sentence sober and swear it is born of no bribery nor  exaggeration. 

Such is the selfless nature of Dave's efforts.  Although I have never observed him in his day to day routine; I have not interviewed his family or his friends to try and creep into his soul, I don't feel it's necessary. Anyone with a heart and purpose as big and plentiful as Dave's deserves all the honor one can bestow on him.

He is also a tireless defender of the military.  Since forever Dave and I and countless others have electronically inhabited one of the most stimulating and eclectic places in cyberspace, a digital closest tucked under the liberal armpit of San Francisco in a town called Sausalito known as the Whole Earth 'Lectronic Link or simply, the WELL.

Fuzzy headed liberals, libertarians, communists, socialists, Marxists and even a Republican or two are all thrown together into the WELL's electronic soup.  Discussions ebb and flow in a kind of electronic present that one has to, like childbirth, actually experience to get an idea of its true nature.

And it is here that Dave has distinguished himself as a tireless advocate for the military, a stance for which he has taken more flack than a B-17 on a Berlin bombing run.  And he's never backed down and, as much as it pains me to admit it, he's almost always right.

Brock Meeks 
Brock Meeks, Chief Washington Correspondent, MSNBC