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I don't think the people who created Usenet were entirely unaware of human social dynamics. And the people who created things like Twitter certainly weren't unaware that Usenet, mailing lists, and web forums existed.

But at best, they had an incredibly rosy view of what was going on. E.g., looking back, a Twitter founder claims that in 2006 everyone "was cool": https://twitter.com/rasmus_kleis/status/974552443789836288

Given Gabriel's theory, that's obvious bunk. And having talked to some online community pioneers, abuse started pretty much from the get go. Look at all the replies I got when I brought it up on Twitter, for example. Story after story of early experiences of trolling, abuse, etc: https://twitter.com/williampietri/status/974847531317211136

There was (and is) a strong strain of technoutopianism, where we take the shiny new possibility and project a perfect future onto it. This goes back at least as far as the introduction of the telegraph, which many thought would bring about world peace: https://www.amazon.com/Victorian-Internet-Remarkable-Ninetee...

As Neiwart documents, though, many of the terrible people online today are intellectual descendants of the terrible people who were doing their social networking in person and via the mail: https://www.amazon.com/Alt-America-Rise-Radical-Right-Trump/...




Please don't take offence but honestly I think the "uncoolness" is being demonstrated by you in these twitter threads and is an example of behavior that came about post-social media.

You and Rasmus twist Ev's words to somehow be about oppression instead of what he clearly meant: the early internet was inhabited by geeks and he (a geek) liked that. It's also clear that he's talking more about spammers than abusers. Of course with scale both will ramp up.

Secondly we see the presentation of a hard left view as the only valid way of thinking. Pro-gun people showing up to a forum about gun control is in no way abuse, it's the internet fulfilling its promise of giving everyone a voice (even if you don't agree with them).

Yes, there have always been trolls, spammers, jerks, loudmouths... What social media seems to have created is a unique culture of grievance hunting, virtue signalling and a worship of victimhood.

Again, please don't take this as a personal attack, it's just an observation from someone who's been on the internet for a really long time.


If I am "uncool" in your eyes, I promise I was this way before social media. I've been using the Internet since the late 1980s, and before that was a BBS user.

I also think I'm reading Ev just fine. He says "We laid down fundamental architectures that had assumptions that didn’t account for bad behavior." As one of Twitter's first users and a former Twitter employee, I think he's right. But when Twitter started in 2006, people had been behaving badly on the Internet for a long time, and it was far from being a "just nerds" place. The September that Never Ended started 13 years before Twitter, for example.

I also don't believe that my view is "hard left". I'm a gun owner, and am fine with people talking about guns. You're distorting what I said, which is that "rabid pro-gun types turned up to aggressively dominate and/or ruin the [gun control] forum". We were talking about abuse, and this was given as an example of clear forum abuse. Yes, gun owners can participate usefully in gun control forums, but being pro-gun does mean you can't be abusive.




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