This post was partially inspired by Darren Williger’s keynote speech at Social Media 201.
Despite the fact it’s a common perception that social media is a new phenomenon, it’s actually far from.
Both Darren and myself have been using the Internet since the 80s.
We ran a small competition: turns out that if you Google us, the earliest result is mine (from 1989! In the mid 80s BBSs (Bulletin board systems) were what we all used.
) though Darren was active online about 2-3 years before I was. These were phone-based systems, usually run by individuals, though some companies had their own, that enabled people to connect using dial-up modems.
They were infinitely slower than today’s internet, and all text based, but they were awesome!
BBSs included forums, multiplayer games (though not real time ones), downloadable computer games (yep, some two decades before Bittorrent) and a lot more.
When I look at old emails that are archived online, we actually referred to the internet as the Inter Net. Amusingly, there was a local news story about us at the time: “Local teenagers chat with people all over the world using computers”.It sounds ridiculous now, but it was very “exotic” back then.Bitnet email accounts were very simple: mine was [email protected] (yeah, no .com, or whatever).The internet equivalent was [email protected] though I rarely used it at the time.Not long after I had my first chat (using Relay – the ancestor of IRC which itself had a multiple offspring from multiple “wives”: chat rooms, various messengers – even chat roulette).I was introduced to a radical concept called MUDs (Multi User Domains).MUDs are the prehistoric ancestors of massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) such as World of Warcraft, Ever Quest and Ultima Online.There were several variations of the concept: some were created for social interaction (the modern equivalent is Second Life), other for gaming, etc.MUDs were just as fun as modern games, despite the fact that the vast majority were text based. This was a classic multiplayer online game: once you registered, you were given a character that would have to fight monsters and get experience points to advance in levels.However, in a way they were far superior to even the most modern of these games. Depending on the MUD itself (there were hundreds, all run by individuals and as far as I know, hosted at universities), you could choose a class (i.e.a wizard, a druid, a fighter), have spells, and a do whole lot of different things.