With the launch of ASCO Connection and this blog, “ASCO Online” enters yet another phase of its remarkable evolution. The beginnings of ASCO’s web presence occurred shortly after Al Gore invented the World Wide Web (or maybe it was the Internet, I can’t remember for sure). The first example of a browser that most people would now recognize was Mosaic, and I distinctly remember thinking that this was technology that would change the world, as I downloaded that early version in 1993. At the ASCO Annual Meeting, there were a few Pharma company early adopters that had figured out this was “cool” and had developed some web pages. I think that was the year I chaired the Education Committee, and when I presented the idea of ASCO getting online, there were supporters and detractors, as you can imagine.
Within a year or two, we were up and running. I wrote a brief article outlining my own vision with where www.asco.org would take the society in the new era, and how immediate access to information would change the lives of oncologists and their patients. One of the more humorous memories was our first Virtual Meeting. We felt that we could put some key lectures online within hours to days to share with the world. There were huge challenges. In those days, the faculty arrived at the Annual Meeting with plastic folders holding slides, then carefully loaded them in carousels for projection — not exactly an easy format to broadcast. We found a vendor who had developed a little black box (he called it “soapbox”) that would scan the slides into a digital format and then make a file available. Doug Blayney and a few other Committee members and I sat in the basement of the convention center and listened to a tape that had to be synched to the slide we were looking at. If it all worked OK, we would “release it” for broadcast to the world.
The rest is history, of course. Now we oldies are struggling to keep up with the smart phones and the younger folks on the ASCO staff are teaching us how to Tweet. I thought the Betty White appearance on SNL pretty much summarized my own thoughts about Facebook. If you haven’t seen it, you might enjoy a quick look (it's on YouTube). As for me, I look forward to blogging this year, although it may be hard to try and be politically correct. I welcome your comments and input, which is part of the fun of this kind of social media.