Lisa Kimball (year not determined, but ALWAYS the Empress of Networking)

Lisa Kimball
(year not determined, but ALWAYS the Empress of Networking)

TODAY:  She’s Lisa Kimball, but she was known as Lisa Carlson.  Without her help, I would never have gotten credentialed to cover the Democratic and Republican Conventions in 1984 — becoming, with Sherwin Levinson and Diane Worthington the first journalists in history to do so interactively, online.  Without Lisa’s help, I would never had a Congressman endorsing the book I wrote online as a series of interviews and later published in hard-copy (“CHRONICLE: The Human Side of AIDS”.)  More important, without Lisa’s magnetism, charisma, energy and savvy, I — and many others — would surely not have become as immersed so enthusiastically and productively in the creation of “social media” way back when.

SHE helped create today’s communications, as a true “online pioneer.”   I’ll always be grateful to her, and I’ll always love her.  – Mike


Looking back, I think I was always a networker at heart.  I was the kid who wrote the neighborhood newsletter on a manual typewriter with some carbon paper.  My friends and I always had little clubs and societies, organized to do something or other in the community.

Later, as I began to work, I created brown bag lunch groups and book discussions and learning communities by various names.  I was introduced to the Internet by the late Frank Burns, a visionary who discovered the power of computer conferencing in the late ’70s while supporting a think tank called Delta Force in the US Army.

In 1983 Frank started The Meta Network ( and showed it to me on the  read more →

20 Feb 2014
February 20, 2014

My song: Competition FINALIST

February 20, 2014 0 Comment

I am honored to announce that, for the second year in a row, a choral song I wrote with composer Jim Papoulis, We Can Plant a Forest, was judged a Finalist in a songwriting competition with very worthy goals.

It’s the “Eco Arts Awards” – – a group of volunteers, dedicated to raising global awareness of our responsibilities — and opportunities — for the ecology of our planet.

I make my living not as a songwriter … but as a speechwriter, scriptwriter, presentation coach, and creative director.  Having been a corporate officer (VP, Marketing & Communications – Avon Products, Inc.) I know what life is like on an executive’s side of a desk.  I like using my skill with words to help someone else’s career shine more brightly in the spotlight.

If you know someone who needs an “Ace” speechwriter – I’m your guy!

Meanwhile, I get pleasure from writing songs and knowing that the public enjoys then. In this case, Jim’s and my song benefits Trees for the Future –  We have caused some 30,000 new trees to be planted on earth — a tiny fraction of the need.  We’ll cause another 10,000 trees to be planted this year.

“We Can Plant a Forest” is now being performed by young choristers around the world. May it help to motivate listeners to be more conscious of supporting our planet’s environment.  The reaction from kids has been tremendously enthusiastic.

If you’d like to know what “We Can Plant a Forest” sounds like, here’s the iTunes link:





30 Jan 2014
January 30, 2014

Houston Hodges – Hooking Up Presbyterian

January 30, 2014 0 Comment

I remember thinking it “novel”, those decades ago, when I saw religious leaders beginning to use the same computer technology I was using in vastly different ways. But that was one more example that Alvin Toffler was right when he wrote in “The Third Wave” that the Information Age would change all our lives in ways we couldn’t yet even begin to foresee. Houston Hodges was one of the people I saw leading the way in discovering how computers could enhance spirituality for those he led. I’m very happy to have his remembrance to this growing collection. – Mike

Houston Hodges, mid-1980's

Houston Hodges, mid-1980’s

My first experience of being “online” came in 1985, during a meeting of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Although it was based in Indianapolis, I was farther west — in my eleventh-floor apartment on San Francisco Bay in California.

But I was “there” nonetheless. An electronic wizard named Merrill Cook had been inveigled into opening a miraculous new connection – via computer! — between the two sites.

Presbyterians, already, had been receiving confusing and virtually incomprehensible instructions. The claim: now it would be possible for any of us to exchange messages with the national gathering, from wherever we happened to be.

All we had to do was use a new gadget called a “modem” hitched to one’s computer. The very idea of a computer being part of a minister’s professional equipment was, itself, an innovation. read more →

15 Jan 2014
January 15, 2014

Sherwin Levinson – The Early, Early Years

January 15, 2014 0 Comment

Without Sherwin Levinson, I would never have been called, “Planet Earth’s First Interactive Electronic Journalist.” Without him as one of my co-founders, there would never have been our TRANSCOASTAL Electronic News Service (TENS) … and I would never have covered the national political conventions, Academy Awards, and a wide range of other events interactively via computer with readers around the world. He changed my life. More important, of course, he helped blaze the path from “The Early, Early Years”, as he calls them, to the world we all interact with today. He was – and is – a zealous pioneer. — Mike

Sherwin - 1975, already a techie

Sherwin – 1975, already a techie

I knew that we’d be able to do great things with computers. I just didn’t know what those things would turn out to be.

I learned computer programming (“app writing” if you were born this century) at a National Science Foundation summer program in 1964. We had a ham radio station. It gave us the chance to “meet” total strangers from far away places and experience group chats with them. I was hooked on the idea and would have become an avid ham, were it not for the cost. But none of us ever dreamed of applying the ham radio model to “online” chats and communications via computer.

A few years later, at college, I worked for Sears as a computer operator. All Sears catalog orders from around the world came through that single center, entered on Teletype machines that sent at 50 baud. (As a frame of reference for what that felt like, the slowest DSL speed you’re likely to find today is about 30,000 times faster).

Some of the order entry clerks in various countries discovered that a “real live human being” in Chicago actually would read and notice order errors … then reply with information about necessary corrections. Periodically, they’d enter bad stock numbers on purpose just so they could include a message, like “how’s the weather in Chicago”, instead of the product description. These errors would come out on punched paper tape, which I ran through another machine to print. My replies were punched on paper tape, then transmitted using a different machine. It was laborious but, over time, we learned about each others’ homes and families. People do crave to communicate!

Skip forward about 10 years. read more →

30 Dec 2013
December 30, 2013

Year-end Remembrance of My Parents

December 30, 2013 3 Comments

As 2014 approaches, I think about the fact that – once again – I won’t be phoning my parents in Beaufort, SC, to wish them a Happy New Year.

Having both of them gone affects my perspective in ever-reverberating ways. As empathetic as I’ve always thought myself to be, I’ve gained a new and visceral understanding – beyond just intellectual comprehension — of what it means to be human. In a way that wasn’t so before – couldn’t have been so … I couldn’t have known how this would feel — I have a new connection now to anyone else who’s lost their parents. My condolences to others today reflect a richer understanding of what’s just happened to someone else.

That’s my mother, Lucille. She’s wearing an oxygen tube and using a walker – having suffered lasting lung damage from the radiation that she received for her breast cancer. She was a vivacious Southern belle …of her own unique ilk, since she had grown up Jewish in this tiny island town. Scarlett O’Hara, my mother was not. But she had been beautiful all her life and had a discreetly playful demeanor when she wasn’t obsessively worrying about everything, or analyzing it. (Sound familiar, to those who know me?)

Fortunately, I was to acknowledge her, before she passed, for the gifts that I inherited from her – including just conversation with her … she was so bright and so precise — that make me a writer today.

And that’s my dad, Sam. He taught me fairness, punctuality and dependability, the value of a generous heart, and the blessing of a sense of humor. Also, a commitment to working hard and to pleasing clients. They were “customers,” in his context: he ran my grandfather’s building supply company, in addition to teaching psychology at the local University of South Carolina branch.
They were the love of each other’s lives. To a phenomenal degree, they complemented each other. For my mother, the glass was not only half-empty… it was cracked, and losing water from its sides. For my father, the glass was more than half-full … it was overflowing with reasons to be happy. You can see that even in his “everything’s A-OK” gesture for the camera.

I know that he’d be proud of the fact that I’m sharing proceeds from my new song, “With You”, with the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA). And he, as well as Mother, would be astonished if they could hear the impact of Kimberly Davis singing my words.

To anyone who reads this: Happy New Year.