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The Most Wildly Inaccurate Prediction about the Internet, c. 1993


(Video Link)


In 1993, an early Internet user named John Allen explained that the Internet was and would continue to be a place of remarkable civility and courtesy. Warning: text displayed during the video is NSFW.

I began using the Internet in 1995, so I can only assume that this genteel atmosphere that Allen spoke of collapsed in just two years.

via Urlesque

This was true back in the days when getting online had a serious personality component... only the patient and persistent people could get online. And there was no web, you had to then figure out USENET which to me for a long time was the ultimate noob test... just say "USENET" to someone.. if they don't know what it is they're a noob. Of course, these days that's less true because USENET is pretty much a thing of the past.
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When did AOL open the flood gates to the internet for their users? You find that date, and I'm sure it corresponds to the downfall of civility and courtesy.
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This reminds me of "Ender's Game," actually. Card envisioned the web as a free-flowing meritocracy of ideas, where the smartest ideas win. I was very amused that Valentine and Peter were able to sway the world just through the power of their words. On the real internet, they'd be eaten alive by 4chan....
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I have rarely ever seen vituperative abuse on the internet: perhaps it is because I always frequent moderated forums and discussion groups. I could not imagine visiting any other place to discuss things which matter to me.
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@Chris G.

It's been a while since I read Ender's Game, but I seem to recall that their "Internet" had a realtively strict identity and accountability protocol. Didn't they have to be sneaky to protray themselves as the personalities they posted as? I remember them being aftraid of being exposed.
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Webtv.
Damn, I was on usenet when they started selling webtv.
"HOW MANY TEEF YOU THINK I HAV?"
Then some of them found the capslock key and the internet became civilized (I wish).
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As another poster remarked, the culture of the Internet was different in 1993 than it is today. For instance there was once a thing called Netiquette, a common courtesy extended in conversation but also in the way Internet resources were used. This has gone by the wayside long ago. I suppose to put it bluntly, most Internet users in those days were educated, intelligent people who saw an opportunity to do one thing, communicate.
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@Splint - I believe so. It certainly fits the totalitarian nature of the government in that book. Not being able to hide your identity would certainly make the net more civil. Or not - http://www.pwsnt.com/ is a nice sample of people who have no problem linking their true names to horrible, willful ignorance and vitriol.
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