Horace Romansky was born in Split, Yugoslavia, in 1938.He emigrated to Chicago with his parents, Horace Senior and Marte, at the age of 18.Horace Senior invented the Internet. Otherwise, young Horace describes his father as a rather ineffectual man "to whom I probably owe my own life-long lack of curiosity". Horace's mother, he says, was "very beautiful - probably - I've never really thought about it".He mainly remembers her constant wish to escape into "a fantasy world where there are no rules"; and he agrees that this may have been his original inspiration for HInterlife, the online 'virtual world' for which he is famous.In fact, he recently echoed his mother in his widely publicised statement, "I can do what I like behind this cartoon persona".
After numerous exploits, Horace found work in the Midwest as a newspaper reporter.His literary icon was Alex Haley, whose novel Roots Horace has described as "my road to Damascus".Although he says he never read Roots, he watched it on TV in 1977, and later became enthralled by the series of legal cases in which Haley was found to have plagiarised the work,"To this day," says Horace, "Alex remains the most successful African-American author in history. He inhabited the world my mother had described to me, in which anything is possible with no repercussions. I knew that I wanted to be a part of that world."
Prof. Horace's favourite films include My Own Private Idaho (1991) and Passport to Pimlico (1949).The maturation of 3D graphic software in the past decade gave him the opportunity to create his own private world - Hinterlife, the online community in which Prof. Horace presides over creative intiatives ranging from Hinterlife University to the Virtual Olympic Games.Horace refuses to discuss the teaching post to which he owes his professorial status. "Perhaps I'm not a real professor at all," he says teasingly. "Colonel Sanders wasn't a real colonel, you know!"He acknowledges, however, that he and his academic colleagues in the real world have had "a parting of the ways" owing to their shortsighted refusal to join him in Hinterlife, and that since then he has been taking private students.
Prof. Horace has taken the unusual step of retaining his real-world name and identity in Hinterlife, despite requiring its other users to use fake names.Otherwise, he keeps the details of his personal life jealously guarded. "If I did have a wife and grown-up children," he says, "(and I'm not saying I do), I would have little or no time for them with all my Hinterlife friends."The Hinterlife membership policy reflects Horace's maverick social attitudes."Whereas Groucho Marx said that he wouldn't join a club that would have him as a member," he says," I have yet to find anyone worthy of joining my club on a permanent basis."This position is reflected in his marketing description of Hinterlife as "a community of one. Me."
But Hinterlife and its remarkable creator, Prof. Horace, welcome casual visitors. His YouTube videos, collated on this web site, recently reached a new milestone with a combined audience of 20 viewers. "View our videos," says Horace, "and see what all the fuss is about!"Educators in particular will find the videos revelatory, with their insights into the rich and confusing jargon world of online education.