[vcf-midatlantic] The good old days of user groups.

Dave McGuire mcguire at neurotica.com
Mon Aug 24 14:01:32 EDT 2020

On 8/24/20 1:52 PM, Matt Reynolds via vcf-midatlantic wrote:
> I didn't grow up with them, but playing with BBSes on old schtuff for fun
> has been very interesting, and I can see how you could make friends with
> people on them.  Way more personal feeling than today.

   As someone who did grow up with them, I can tell you that this is 
absolutely the case.  The Internet is presented to people as a "you can 
GET this, you can GET that!"  "Get get get!"  ...not "participate", not 
"communicate", but "get".  In the BBS era, there was no small amount of 
file sharing, sure, so there was "getting", but it was more about 
camaraderie and community than "get get get".

   It's really more about the medium and how people are introduced to 
it, and also, in no small part, the KIND of people.  Nowadays, the 
Internet is flooded with nontechnical people, which really wasn't so in 
the BBS era.  That one major unifying factor is gone.

   When I was heavily into BBSes in NJ in the mid-1980s, there was a 
greater than 50% chance that anyone I would meet there knew how to 
solder.  On the Internet in general, and Facebook in particular, it 
seems there's a greater than 50% chance that anyone I'd meet there is 
functionally illiterate.  The great "filter" of "you need technical 
know-how in order to even approach this" is gone.

   Some people say that's a good thing, but I see evidence to the 
contrary every single day.

> One of my laments of "today" is the dying of forums.  FB Groups and things
> like that are really making it so easy to use that nobody wants to set up a
> forum, and membership drops off of existing ones.
> They don't compare in my opinion, but for many there is enough of an
> overlap that the cons (trying to easily find past posts and content) are
> outweighed by the good (don't have to manage your own forum, etc.).
> Hopefully it will backswing at some point.

   Well, this does have the effect of increasing the signal/noise ratio 
on the forums and mailing lists.  In my experience at least, the people 
who flock to Facebook, well, sorta belong there! ;)


Dave McGuire, AK4HZ
New Kensington, PA

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