The Active Thesis is a multi-website project Hosted on a GreenGeeks Web Hosting Package.

The Project of The Active Thesis

An Online Ethics Game of Fighting Corporate Corruption

As the members of EthOps aged, and lost loved ones to the disease [of cancer] and other members even lost their lives themselves, the survivors [of cancer] became convinced that although Angel was acting unilaterally, he was justified in developing His Thesis."
  1. Introduction Words
  2. Not Knowing How Bad Things Were Was Helpful
  3. The Internet Advertising Side of It All, Which Is Significantly More Interesting
  4. Why Informal HTML Mattered in the mid-1990s
  5. The MAKE-A-WISH Connection
  6. Why We Needed a Link Connection
  7. Conclusion
  8. Final Words

My friends tell me to try to tell a story as accurately as possible to what you can handle without having some sort of flashback to my PTSD. So here goes.

Not Knowing How Bad Things Were Was Helpful

Shortly after I was diagnosed with cancer in 1997, in high school 9th grade, I spent a lot of time in and out of the hospital and the outpatient clinic, plus lots of places to get tests (unfortunately lots of needles, but that's in this other story.) At the time, just starting high school, I was a bit oblivious to the multitude of different forms of cancer. The generalization of "cure cancer" as one-fits-all isn't accurate. There are too many cancers to bundle them all into one treatment, although that would have been a beautiful world to live in. At the time, all I knew about chemotherapy was that we were praying for older people in our church battling cancer. I didn't actually know what it was.

The easiest statistic to scare yourself or calm yourself is the how many people live at least five years from when they are diagnosed. My paperwork was about 50-60%, but I didn't read that paper until two decades later. In the end, it was probably good I didn't know. When I studied more into cancer after my remission, I had to accept treatments were often "freedom from progession" which was a struggling term on how many years it would be before you would have to re-start cancer treatment. I got lucky (perse) and only had to re-start my treatment once.

mug with the 1998 logo created before my stem cell transplant

I wrote a paper about cancer when I was finishing my senior year of high school. It was so well written it was stolen frequently or even sold as essays in the early 2000s.

Cancer: Facts and Thoughts - Dave Kristula (May 31, 2000)

I think it was important that people starting college had a legitimate paper to reference if they were interested in cancer research. I wasn't a medical researcher, so I had to have people looking for the basics of cancer treatment to have a reliable resource that was simple to understand.

The Internet Advertising Side of It All, Which Is Significantly More Interesting

In 1996, a little over half a year before I was diagnosed with cancer in 1997, I was offered the chance to beta test a new prototype advertising network. This was before pop-up ads and ad blockers existed. Honestly, it was a relatively fun time because we didn't have people using scripts to spam out ads to everyone, as we have suffered with for more than a decade now.

The network was part of a project called We were paid to put clues around sites and various parts of the network and compensated by prices set by the company behind It was definitely a lot of fun. I think a lot of people don't realize that one of the main reasons Internet Advertising exploded in popularity is because there were several hundred, then several thousand creators (then known as publishers, borrowed from print magazines), virtually all of us working on these fun projects. This was before the domain name was registered. There were literally thousands of us working on these projects. It was amazing.

Some Swag from 1996 from Interactive Imaginations, Inc. for helping the beta test.

There's a very old page I wrote about the Basics of Internet Advertising from the time we were formalizing advertisement sizes with the different advertising companies. Eventually the company behind decided to pay publishers who were part of that project without having to place treasure hunt clues. I loved getting my first check in fall of 1996, it was just about $60, but I loved the fact that the Internet started paying me.

Why Informal HTML Mattered in the mid-1990s

Although I already had a significant size tumor is 1996, I wasn't aware of it and therefore I didn't have a "chemo-exhaustion" brain that would have prevented me from working on web projects. I taught people how to make simple websites with HTML, and how to add pictures to those websites. (Basically, we had to teach people how to both code HTML, and upload a JPG file. It required special software at the time. I think Angelfire had a working prototype by the end of 1996 without using FTP, but my memory isn't perfect on that.)

The primary goal at the time was that people who used IRC (Internet Relay Chat) could have pages about them and a few pictures of themselves. The reason for this was primarily to prevent fraud, what you would call cat-fishing now. It made group meetups a lot safer. This project was very popular in 1996 and 1997.

Anyone who made a profile or website from the tutorial was offered the HTML code including an animated GIF so they could automatically invite others to learn HTML themselves. The GIF was one of the most fun things I had ever made besides creating "The Cancer Game" later in 2003 with my friend and mentor Yuko at Albright College.

The tutorials posted that I worked on were start-to-finished by tens of millions of visitors, not including people who copied the tutorials to their own servers. In the long run, I'm a bit flattered that my reach approached a hundred million visitors with the unauthorized copies.

On my own personal side of marketing, about a third of the millions we had were directly from my own marketing. Please note I didn't go to college or anything for marketing in high school. I was still in the 8th grade when we started the project, since 9th grade was when I started chemotherapy.

The MAKE-A-WISH Connection

The summer immediately following my diagnosis, the rules for Make-A-Wish was that some children who are at risk of dying but not terminal could be considered for a Wish on a case-by-case basis. I'm not sure of how it works now, I just know the organization is amazing in general. They have a fundraiser in a borough I used to live in, by truckers, so that's definitely a great interaction with the public.

I asked for a Viper (the car) and I could tell you I was denied. In the rule of 80%/20%, I'd joke (pretending to know nothing about that rule) that 20% was that I was too young to drive (15-years-old) and the other 80% was that they couldn't award everyone cars Yes, I am making fun of semantics because I needed to throw some sort of concept in here that makes no sense.

I know this sounds like a long tangent, but it will quickly come together. Since I was at the risk of dying, and didn't know how long I was actually going to live once I was in remission the first time, I was really hoping there was a solution to my cancer in case it did come back in the first five years. I think the research said seven years are still risky for Hodgkin's Lymphoma, but I've never seen that in a citation.

I wanted to use my Wish to change the world. (For humor, at one point I did even register but never had time to write anything on it. Oh well. Every time I try a project, I learn something new!)

I did ask for a "Link" and never really told anyone the details of how it worked until now. It did work.

We (this would be the We including my mentors) knew that our referral system of "create a profile and link us back" was successful as long as people continued to not understand why we undertook the project.

Why We Needed a Link Connection

When I walked through the Doctor's Office Building next to the hospital for chemotherapy sessions, there was a research library door along the corridor. This was still 1997, about a year before Google. Everyone knew that we'd have a fantastic search engine come out. I'm glad it didn't take long. I wanted as many cancers as possible to be cured someday, even if I wasn't still here to see it.

Kids and young adults, at the time, didn't have much access to medical literature or the rest of the nuts-and-bolts of being able to contribute. Graduate students had access overall, but being a teaching assistant, as many are, would make this "freelance" research difficult. It was clear to me at this point that both the adults and those younger than them would be making mistakes in the research. I wanted there to be a balance, and let people of any age start the contribution to the greater goal.

Through Make-A-Wish, I asked Netscape, one of the most powerful influencers at the time, I'd say, top 5 of far as I know, if I could get a Link from their Help Page. They originally said no, because I wasn't following the HTML standards they were using at the time and planned to immediately move towards. I 100% respect that they refused that. But I also needed the tutorial to be accessible to children so they could code whatever they wanted. Giving it away free was the most important part.

I would still have had tens of millions of visitors getting fully through the course without Netscape adding The Link, but I can definitely credit Make-A-Wish and Netscape for accelerating it into more than a hundred million.


When you think about a great TED Talk, or any sort of presentation where someone learned something online, just remember that Netscape and Make-A-Wish were a huge part of it. Every time I see a magical treatment for a disease, it makes me feel great that Make-A-Wish was there and I am still here to see them speak.

I would have been able to buy a Viper with the funds I was paid over the first ten years of the project we started with the beta test of Riddler and expanded with the help of Make-A-Wish. I learned the lesson is 2021 that I don't have the attention span from generalized anxiety disorder to drive a stick-shift (from all these cancer experiences, since the cancer came back. I always worry).

Final Words

I still love the end of the foreword for the alternate reality game "" virally promoting the 9-8-8 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline.

"By the way, Angel, we still cannot fulfill your request to "comp" you a "Viper." You'll just have to break a "hundred" from your retirement."

It's beyond honest and it comforts me.

Thanks for sticking with us, and still believing amazing things can happen, even when we're not not expecting it.

Oh, and check out info on my new book, working title "Dave's New Book."

-dave - PO BOX ONE, PARADISE, PA 17562

the at symbol


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