Online communities predate February 2004. Social networks lived before Friendster did on March 22, 2002. Virtual online communities even predate the WELL‘s birthdate, circa 1985. The very first online forums go back to the 70s with the Planet-Forum system and include USENET and even, arguably, IRC. My first online community was a local dial-up BBS back in 1983—but I didn’t get it. I was just in it for The Anarchist Cookbook.
Two things turned me on to online communities back in 1993: I joined The Meta Network, a local DC-based dial-up ISP and one of the seminal persistent virtual online communities, for Internet access and my email@example.com (no longer active) email address. I was email-free my entire time at University—I was an American Literature major, after all: print on pulp.
On TMN, I discovered ArtsWire and then the greater community, Metanet. In 1996, I joined the WELL and still have my WELL email address, firstname.lastname@example.org, but I never cottoned to anyplace but TMN. The WELL, Metanet, and Howard Rheingold’s Brainstorms are referred to as a webconferencing community, to me, they’re virtual online communities.
From the beginning of my writing for Biznology and on Biznology, I have written so many articles about online virtual communities and I thought I would share them all with you so that you can catch up. Most of them are pretty evergreen: