Twenty-three years of after-school gigs on the internet

The New York Times has been writing about the internet for at least 31 years—well before “the Internet” became “the internet”. It has likely been writing about kids making money for much longer. I started going down that rabbit hole, but climbed right back out. This isn’t meant to be a long post.

A quote from an article last week on kids using the internet to make money made me terrified enough to do a quick comparison. It probably terrified me because I’m getting farther and farther away from being a kid, but it still worked and it’s my blog.

🗣 Just because you’re terrified doesn’t mean it’s not terrifying….

First, the comparison, from a 1996 piece on making websites as an after-school gig in the business section:

Mr. Franklin-Hodge also runs a popular site on the World Wide Web, called Laughweb, a smorgasbord of jokes plucked off the Internet. That’s for fun, but besides working for the local Internet company he has done contract jobs, for $15 to $25 an hour, that range from computer repairs to sophisticated programming assignments. His tax return for 1995 listed income of $6,000.

– New York Times, May 6, 1996: An After-School Job That’s Not Kids’ Stuff;Wanted: Web Designers and Programmers; $25/hr.; Need Parents’ Consent

Jascha Franklin-Hodge went on to become the CIO of Boston, co-founder of Blue State Digital, and is now executive director of Open Mobility Foundation.

The author interviews several other teens (and their parents) that are all earning money in some way or another from this great new World Wide Web and gosh isn’t it great. (It really was/is)

Fast forward 23 years and flip to the style section.

A 15 year old is making quite a bit of money (sometimes $10k/month) by posting memes on Instagram. But it’s not necessarily about the money…

“The more followers you have, the more voice you have,” he said. “The more clout you have, the more power you have.”

– New York Times, November 29, 2019: Here’s What’s Happening in the American Teenage Bedroom

“The more clout you have, the more power you have” is a version of the internet we’ve created.

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