+
Heroes

Other musicians scoffed at the web. David Bowie started his own Internet service provider.

Some musicians (cough Metallica cough) saw the Internet as a Wild West threatening their ability to control fans' access to their music. David Bowie saw things differently.

In 1998, only 42% of American households had Internet access. Compared to the 74% of households with Internet access today, that's a pretty huge difference.

After releasing his 1996 song "Telling Lies" as a web-only single and selling 300,000 copies (a huge number in any era), David Bowie decided the Internet provided a unique opportunity to interact with fans in a new way.


The only issue was getting more people online. And the best way to do that if you can't wait for the rest of the world to catch up? Start your own Internet service provider.

So, that's what David Bowie did.

Image by Ralph Gatti/Getty Images.

On Sept. 1, 1998, David Bowie launched BowieNet, "the world's first artist-created Internet service provider."

For $19.95 a month, users could access the Internet and many fancy Bowie-themed perks, including an @davidbowie.com email address, 5 MB of personal webspace, unreleased audio and video tracks, and "exclusive music content provided by the Rolling Stone Network."

In short, BowieNet was creative and ground-breaking, and I wish I'd known about it at the time so I could have been jeangenie@davidbowie.com instead of hlibby@not-my-real-email.ca.

The BowieNet landing page in 2000. Image via DavidBowie.com.

As the Internet grew and evolved, some artists (like Prince) changed their minds about it. David Bowie never did.

He held online art exhibitions, offered his voice and his image to video games, and encouraged fans to remix his music on the new site BowieArt. Bowie did all of this because he believed in the power of the Internet, calling it "subversive and possibly rebellious and chaotic and nihilistic."

That statement is from a 1999 interview with U.K. Journalist Jeremy Paxman. Watch Paxman's face as Bowie talks about the internet:

Sorry, J-Pax. This is the face of a man who just doesn't get it. GIF via Clorpse/YouTube.

For a good third of this 16-minute interview, Bowie tries to explain the power of the Internet for artists and creators.

"I appreciate that there's a new demystification process going on between the artist and the audience," Bowie says. "I think we're on the cusp of something exhilarating and terrifying. [The Internet's] an alien life form."

It's hard to state in a few sentences how special Bowie's attitudes were and still are.

Giving fans increased power to access and interact with artists was a scary concept in 1998. By 2000, musicians like Metallica and Dr. Dre were suing Napster (and the university students using it) for sharing MP3s of their music. In 2014, Taylor Swift famously announced she'd be removing her music from Spotify — one of the world's most popular streaming music services.

Image by Jo Hale/Getty Images.

Yet, Bowie's approach to the Internet remained the same: Let the fans in, let them connect with each other and with you, and allow yourself to be surprised and delighted by what happens.

BowieNet operated as an ISP until 2006 and as a fan community until 2012. By the time it closed its doors, its creator was rewarded with a Guinness world record for "first celebrity ISP" and a Webby Lifetime Achievement Award.

Bowie's management announced his passing yesterday with posts on Facebook and Twitter — cutting out the PR middlemen and going straight to the fans with the most important news.


Just as Bowie would have wanted, and the Internet enabled him to do.

Image by Justin Tallis/Getty Images.

Hold on, Frankie! Mama's coming!

How do you explain motherhood in a nutshell? Thanks to Cait Oakley, who stopped a preying bald eagle from capturing her pet goose as she breastfed her daughter, we have it summed up in one gloriously hilarious TikTok.

The now viral video shows the family’s pet goose, Frankie, frantically squawking as it gets dragged off the porch by a bald eagle—likely another mom taking care of her own kiddos.

Wearing nothing but her husband’s boxers while holding on to her newborn, Willow, Oakley dashes out of the house and successfully comes to Frankie's rescue while yelling “hey, hey hey!”

The video’s caption revealed that the Oakleys had already lost three chickens due to hungry birds of prey, so nothing was going to stop “Mama bear” from protecting “sweet Frankie.” Not even a breastfeeding session.

Oakley told TODAY Parents, “It was just a split second reaction ...There was nowhere to put Willow down at that point.” Sometimes being a mom means feeding your child and saving your pet all at the same time.

As for how she feels about running around topless in her underwear on camera, Oakley declared, “I could have been naked and I’m like, ‘whatever, I’m feeding my baby.’”

Keep ReadingShow less
Joy

The gift that keeps on giving

The Giving Keys inspire wearers to dream, create and pay it forward

The Giving Keys is a jewelry company that's a bit unconventional, only because they believe that all of their gifts are meant to be regifted. It's a pay it forward, give on to others type of mentality and it in turn gives their pieces that little bit of extra meaning. Each of their keys comes with a story attached, once you decide exactly what that is...

Keep ReadingShow less

10/10. The Mayyas dance.

We can almost always expect to see amazing acts and rare skills on “America’s Got Talent.” But sometimes, we get even more than that.

The Mayyas, a Lebanese women’s dance troupe whose name means “proud walk of a lioness,” delivered a performance so mesmerizing that judge Simon Cowell called it the “best dance act” the show has ever seen, winning them an almost instant golden buzzer.

Perhaps this victory comes as no surprise, considering that the Mayyas had previously won “Arab’s Got Talent” in 2019 and competed on “Britain’s Got Talent: The Champions.” But truly, it’s what motivates them to take to the stage that’s remarkable.

“Lebanon is a very beautiful country, but we live a daily struggle," one of the dancers said to the judges just moments before their audition. Another explained, “being a dancer as a female Arab is not fully supported yet.”

Nadim Cherfan, the team’s choreographer, added that “Lebanon is not considered a place where you can build a career out of dancing, so it’s really hard, and harder for women.”

Still, Cherfan shared that it was a previous “AGT” star who inspired the Mayyas to defy the odds and audition anyway. Nightbirde, a breakout singer who also earned a golden buzzer before tragically passing away in February 2021 due to cancer, had told the audience, “You can't wait until life isn't hard anymore before you decide to be happy.” The dance team took the advice to heart.

For the Mayyas, coming onto the “AGT” stage became more than an audition opportunity. Getting emotional, one of the dancers declared that it was “our only chance to prove to the world what Arab women can do, the art we can create, the fights we fight.”

Keep ReadingShow less