“E-mail? Internet? What a gimmick! We have fax machines! What more does one need?” This not from a local but an ex-patriot who spent a substantial part of the year living abroad in the first world. And as recently as 1996, a time on the island when the drachma was an almost nonexchangeable currency and the euro a coin not yet on the horizon.
I was not to be deterred, insisting that one day in the not-too-distant future, e-mail and the Internet would effect a global communications revolution. I had this idea of opening the first cybercafé and website about the Rock. Much like the old telegraph office used to be. The only two people at the time who were able to share this vision were our mayor, Kostas Anastopoulou, and a semiretired Swedish friend who had come to live on the island, Michael Giese.
When we launched the Hydranet website, it was bigger than all the cyberspace occupied by Crete and Corfu combined. As joint lunatics, appreciated by the one-off tourist and a paltry few who knew of other folk with an @ address, we had a lot of fun braving the huge learning curve of a new technology. Only in 1997, after a house was sold as a result of communications via our system, were we even taken seriously.
Recently a regular Comet visitor pointed out that our cheerful little website was becoming something of an obituary list. So we chose not to introduce Michael’s passing as a simple MIA name but to highlight a bit of his and our pioneering experience on the island. My partner in crime passed suddenly in his home, Uppsala, Sweden, on October 26. He will be much missed by all who knew him.