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The Modem World: A Prehistory of Social Media

The Modem World: A Prehistory of Social Media

by Kevin Driscoll
The Modem World: A Prehistory of Social Media

The Modem World: A Prehistory of Social Media

by Kevin Driscoll


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The untold story about how the internet became social, and why this matters for its future
“A great book for anyone who wants to understand the early days of online communications.”—Preston Gralla, Arts Fuse
Fifteen years before the commercialization of the internet, millions of amateurs across North America created more than 100,000 small-scale computer networks. The people who built and maintained these dial-up bulletin board systems (BBSs) in the 1980s laid the groundwork for millions of others who would bring their lives online in the 1990s and beyond. From ham radio operators to HIV/AIDS activists, these modem enthusiasts developed novel forms of community moderation, governance, and commercialization. The Modem World tells an alternative origin story for social media, centered not in the office parks of Silicon Valley or the meeting rooms of military contractors, but rather on the online communities of hobbyists, activists, and entrepreneurs. Over time, countless social media platforms have appropriated the social and technical innovations of the BBS community. How can these untold stories from the internet’s past inspire more inclusive visions of its future?

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780300248142
Publisher: Yale University Press
Publication date: 05/17/2022
Pages: 328
Sales rank: 290,141
Product dimensions: 6.12(w) x 9.25(h) x (d)

About the Author

Kevin Driscoll is an assistant professor in the Department of Media Studies at the University of Virginia. He is the co-author (with Julien Mailland) of Minitel: Welcome to the Internet.

Table of Contents

1 Recalling the Modem World 1

2 Computerizing Hobby Radio 29

3 Building an Internet for Everyone 58

4 Sharing Files with Strangers 90

5 Cultivating Community 132

6 Becoming the Net 168

7 Imagining a Better Future for the Internet 192

Acknowledgments 201

Notes 205

Bibliography 267

Index 301

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