Ojai resident Erin Jansen is, by her own admission, "passionate about helping people cope with new environments and new cultures." And "that's what the Internet was in 1995," says Jansen; "a new culture with a new lingo. Essentially, it was a fusion between marketing and computers."
So, having earned a Masters in Industrial Psychology from the London School of Economics, and a bachelor's in psychology from Pepperdine University, Jansen set out to write a book: "NetLingo: The Internet Dictionary" (2002).
"Actually, I like to tell people that I didn't choose 'NetLingo,' it chose me," Jansen smiles. "I happened to be at the right place at the right time. I felt it was my responsibility to bring this thing into creation in order to help people understand this new 'online culture.'"
Asked how "NetLingo" is different from books like the "Internet Dictionary for Dummies," Jansen laughs and says, (that book) "is actually full of incorrect and incomplete information! They're trying to be cutesy when they describe 'worm,' for example, by putting a little worm image next to the definition and then making up some kind of analogy with 'dirt.' It makes me livid! It's that kind of writing and 'information' that confuses people.
My mission is to demystify the Internet so that anyone can understand it. Also, NetLingo is different from other Internet dictionaries because it's the only technical reference book you'll find written in layman's language that is easy to understand. Maybe it's because it's written by a woman, maybe because it's written by somebody who cares; either way, it's unique in many ways."
And the high-energy Jansen does care - about a number of things, least of which is the fast-track, get-rich-quick life she left behind in Silicon Valley several years ago. "I came to Ojai because I was looking for quality of life," she says. "I enjoyed living in the big cities, but I always wanted to jar my own jelly. With the Internet, I feel like I can have the best of both worlds: a connection to the big city via my high-tech (home) office, which happens to be located on the 'back 40' with chickens and peacocks and fruit trees.
I left Silicon Valley and corporate life because I saw a bunch of people who just wanted to make money and were developing 'bleeding-edge' technologies faster than anyone could keep up with them, while at the same time there was an enormous need to be filled throughout America, as the majority of citizens were just learning how to use a computer - these were the Windows 3.0 days!" She adds, "They didn't care about 'streaming' this or 'push-and-pull' that; they needed to know what a Web browser was and how to use e-mail."
Jansen chuckles, "I left the 'classes' to attend to the 'masses' so that they could actually make use of the Net for themselves. For example, I love helping seniors, who often feel left behind by this revolution. They e-mail me frequently with questions, and they're so thankful when I help them 'open an attachment of their grandkids.' That's the kind of stuff that matters to me."
While Jansen is modest about "NetLingo's" success ("Sales of the book are slow yet steady, but I'm told by publishing professionals 'that's a good thing.' And other experts tell me that selling 6,000 copies in the first year is tremendous."), she's thrilled to report that "people are signing (my) guestbook everyday, thanking me profusely for this reference." Also, "I've just signed international agreements to have the book translated and distributed in China, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Thailand. Having lived abroad in several countries, I have my eye set on the international market now. There's an enormous opportunity to educate and entertain people worldwide about the language of the Internet, and the rest of the world is hungry for information about it."
Happily describing "NetLingo" as both "my day and night job," Jansen notes that "one of the quotes in the book says it best: 'The World Wide Web is a printing press in the hands of the people. This is new way to go out and tell the world about your interests and about yourself. You can soak up a lot of information on the Internet, but eventually you're going to say, Hey, I have something I want to say, too.'"
"NetLingo: The Internet Dictionary" (now available at Barnes and Noble Booksellers) may be purchased online at %5B:siteurl:%shop/online-store.php Or visit Jansen at www.NetLingo.com "and sign the guestbook and have fun!"