As a high school student, I spent quite a bit of time on my local BBSes. For those who are too young to remember them, or were not paying attention, BBSes were proto-internet social networks of a sort. You would use your modem to dial a local telephone number, where you would then log in to a small, shared, text-based community. They were local to your area code (unless you wanted to pay for long distance calls), and very oriented towards nerds.

There was plenty of age-inappropriate content, primitive networking (hi, fidonet), and random strangers to talk to. I learned my first lessons about online identity and online behavior. The whole experience was probably formative of the way I still think about what is “online”. It’s a shame that this whole world has now entirely disappeared, although I did meet someone on Mastodon recently who still runs a BBS in France. The closest thing that most of us have access to today is SDF and other such pubnixes, which have a similar aesthetic.

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