@Sandra Please give some personal feelings about your start point. It would be interesting to read about older times.

@kensanata @szczezuja

So people had homepages but we just jammed a photo and some poems on there. It was all Usenet (which sucked, so much regret on there), mailing lists (which were awesome), mailing convos with online penpals (which was great) and IRC (which OUCH MY PHONEBILLS but I loved IRCing at the time). I didn't have a lot of IRL friends so it was so much IRC.

People would hop on mailing lists for some comic or game we were fans of and that's where we'd meet new people and become friends with them and start emailing with them specifically.

That was my 90s. Email, email, email and IRC.

Then in the 00s, it was all forums. RPG forums of various kinds. Also we ran a local-language Wiki community (that led to all sorts of trouble, kind of a good thing that it's defunct, as tragic as it felt at the time. [It's defunct because we didn't keep good backups and just trusted each other and we in the core team went through some breakups and stopped talking to each other.]) with an associated tilde space.

That stopped and I became more of an offlineaholic. Only kept hanging out on Story-Games and some similar RPG design spaces.

I hopped back online because of the isolation during the pandemic year.

My problem now with the types of social media I have attempted to participate in this last year (CAPCOM/Antenna, Fediverse, and back on IRC) is that now it's all tech-heads. Some of which are great, but, it's like "in order to go on here, you need to be a tech-head". I'm like wait, what? That's not how it used to be. We had mailing lists and IRC channels and even newsgroups on all kinds of topics!

The problem is "normal social media", a.k.a. the silos. Normal people don't have a reason to NOT be on "Twitter" or "Facebook" or whatever the kids use. Weirdos can't go on there, because they get harassed (or get banned), and tech-heads can't go on there (because they realize how completely messed up it is that communication infrastructure is owned by a corporation), so those two groups (and their huge overlap) resort to Gemini, Fediverse and IRC instead.

And here we are. And I really, really miss the combination of "normal people" + "good, clean, basic platforms" (such as email, mailing-lists, IRC that's not about a software project) that existed before Facebook and Discord.
And no-one is normal but I mean all kinds of varied people that don't have to get a degree in modemology to dial into the weird Activity Pub JSON port 1965 sftp pong keepalive hellscape we nerds have concocted.

I kinda think Fediverse is our best bet. I wanna (I can't now because I need to spend my programming spoons on my day job) make a mailing list interface to the Fediverse. But the biggest threat to the Fediverse is that people are on the silos instead.

@Sandra @szczezuja @kensanata uh, I guess we probably crossed each other on Story Games then.

But yeah, I came in late 90s on the internet and it was NNTP and Email, with quick dashes on (crappy) websites for some fan stuff around music groups and fantasy illos.

Hell, I met my partner of 21 years on a mailing list (2 of them, actually).

@szczezuja I think you would love "Surfing on the Internet" by J.C. Hertz if you can find it used. Such a document of its time. And for the BBS era, "Masters of Deception" by Slatalla and Quittner.

@kensanata @szczezuja A lot of books on the Archive, I end up not being able to access. They are locked down somehow…?

@kensanata @Sandra After simple login by email you can “borrow book” for 1 hour. It’s my third book, and everything works fine.

@Sandra It’s only way of solving reservation problem of one paper book copy/digitalization, I think. So you can borrow several times.

@Sandra @szczezuja @kensanata maybe smtp transport for server to server traffic could be a good start

@Sandra @szczezuja @kensanata Here here, you just put to words something that's bothered me about online spaces for a long time but couldn't quite place.

I think it would be difficult but we can try a little harder to get that internet back.

@68km @Sandra @szczezuja @kensanata

...gosh, I... feel like I missed out, now. I've never been on Facebook, either... IDK that The Ongoing & Surprisingly Longer Than Calendars Would Suggest Year Of The Great COVID Pandemic has led to me making that many new connections with people over the internet. More like, lots of isolation and loneliness and mental turmoil, so far. Or perhaps exacerbation thereof.

> I think it would be difficult but we can try a little harder to get that internet back.
That seems worth doing... IDK how.

Thinking about it I remember participating in the Creatures (artificial life game series) community for a little while via IRC. I have positive-ish memories of that, maybe. And a few other old things. I also have been on a few MUSHes/MUCKs/??? since quite some time; but you have to be willing to learn at least a little of their Zork-esque language of command line interaction to exist there, and it does kinda feel like what there still is in that space exists amidst the silent fossils of what once was.


Don't get me wrong, I feel like I failed at the social part of pandemic (I am happy that I spent some time and energy to pick up new skills, like guitar). I lost so many existing IRL friends and I miss them so much. I didn't keep up when they bubbled up and they doubled down on Facebook/Insta. (I used to be able to catch up with them by meeting them IRL ever so often.)

I went from a very offline, no smartphone-for-years existence to having made or strengthened some online connections and I now even work online, but it's not the same. That's not meant as a slight against my online pals, it's not personal, it just isn't the same as IRL. It just isn't.

As for getting that internet back: nerdy, high-threshold spaces like MUSH or specific games seems like it'd lead to a lower proportion of non-techy people which is the opposite of what I'd want:

Basic, clean, open-protocol platforms like email combined with a "general population" ("genpop", as in, not computer savvy) to talk to. We had that (genpop people were using email just fine, especially once webmail had been invented) but then the silos (such as birdsite or Discord) took over and they have no reason to leave the silos. They're not weird enough to get banned and they're not FOSS/EFF hip enough to see the problems with proprietary infrastructure.

I am on Gemini, which is fun, but I don't have any hope for it at all. The community has some absolute gems ♥ but also serious problems that managed to fester early.

Fediverse maaaybe can do it. I've found a mailing list interface since I made that last post, and I'll try to install it and test it if I get some spoons. (Again, purpose of that isn't to make the Fediverse more palatable for genpop since they can use it via email. They won't. It's the opposite: the purpose is to make the Fediverse more palatable for me, a crotchety old relic, since I can use email to communicate with all the Fedi-using peeps.)

Email is also getting way better. Delta Chat, Hey, and similar apps can revitalize it for people who hate email (which I never did. Always loved email. Inbox zero since 96). Or there are Matrix bridges so people can use Matrix/Element as an email client.

@Sandra @szczezuja @kensanata tried setting up a mailing list on a hostgator mail instance 2 years ago. was the most complicated task ever undertook. much micromanagement! such a disaster, the group abandoned email and went full whatsapp.

@nergal Right. The idea is web (+ standalone app) interface for normal people so that they don't have to deal with email. And then have a "mailing list mode" as an alternate way of interacting with it, for those like me who hate the www and love mail.

@nergal @Sandra @szczezuja @kensanata Dreamhost makes it dead simple setting up mailinglists on shared hosting. That's cool.

@mikael I've used them, and now I have the brev-dev mailing list that set up. But mailing lists still require micromanaging, just like @nergal said, people who mess up how to subscribe and unsubscribe or post properly etc. Mailing list modes on other apps is probably the solution, like how does it.

And mailing lists still have the room model which has some pros and cons compared to the follow/friend model of mainstream socials.

Another awesome thing for mailing list lovers is @delta groups, both verified groups and plain. They work with, and abstract, the convention of normal people (huge CC-lists) as opposed to fighting human nature. I love them, I have a ton of groups on there. If I can't all my friends in the same room, at least I can have a ton of hyperspecific rooms with a lot of overlap. ♥

@Sandra @delta @mikael someone on has an interesting project called #arborchat. fits arrangement of messages to our expectations.

@Sandra this is exactly how I feel about it. I'm too young to have experienced email, personal blogs and irc in their prime, but I really do wish fedi and irc was more diverse than it is these days.
I miss the art and music and food and all the other stuff that I used to follow on "normal" social media and I can totally see how the lack of those kind of more universally relatable topics on fedi keeps people on the silos.
Discovery on fedi is also not great and it can be difficult to find stuff.

@kensanata @szczezuja
Biggest reason people are on the silos is that they don't have a compelling enough reason to not be on the silos, and/or they are hooked/addicted/sunk-cost/invested/network-effected enough to not see themselves as able to leave, even if they hate the silos.

And, I don't blame them. Maybe my own QoL would be better if I had hopped on Facebook when it started. (Although with my temper at the time [before I spent a decade on the zafu] I more likely would've gotten myself into enough trouble to ruin my life. And knock on wood; there's still time to bork stuff up royally.)

@Sandra @szczezuja @kensanata I started with BBSes that were like a secret club for nerds. It had FidoMail (like email but slower), online games, chats with up to 7 other online users and warez. So much warez.

Then the internet became easily accessible and everything got bigger and global. IRC, email, usenet, ICQ (an early instant messenger), FTP, web forum boards, and an early form of online 3D virtual world called Active Worlds (which still exists, somehow). That was my net experience. I had a homepage that I only used to put random things like screenshots from shows I liked at the time. Some years later LiveJournal appeared and became my first social media experience. I still think it had better design than anything we've got today.

The web itself was less about stores and services and more about curious things. You'd see tiny websites about things people intensely cared about and silly projects like webcams that monitored a fish tank or let you set the message on a LED sign on someone's bedroom.

@polychrome Oh yeah, I was on ICQ! Guh, that app was so aweful for women. Constant ping from rando lechy strangers

@Sandra I learned the lesson of just not filling in identifying details in my card :p

You give your UIN to friends and that's it.

@polychrome I didn't figure that out until late 90s early 00s and by then we had Jabber ♥

@Sandra @szczezuja @kensanata re: phone. bills the phone company in my area used to offer major discounts in the evening so that became the unofficial "modem hours" for everyone I knew locally. It also helped that at night there was much less of a chance that your parents would pick up the phone and interrupt the connection :blobcat3c:

The big thing about the time is that things like IRC servers and usenet may have been ISP hosted but they still had an underground feel to them - the admins would care of these without any manipulation from the rest of the company. It wasn't "IRC - brought to you by AT&T" but a thing all to itself.

The fediverse is recapturing some of that, at least.

@Sandra @szczezuja @kensanata nerdy spaces with non-tech nerds! That's it. That's what's harder and harder to find.

@szczezuja @kensanata
#usenet / #NNTP was excellent and mailing lists / forums / activitypub are poor substitutes

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