40 years of walled gardens & open platforms: Part I

This the first in a series of articles where I do a brain dump pf something like 40 years experience with “social media” of various forms: Dial-up BBSs, Fidonet, Usenet, IRC, CompuServe, AOL, Slashdot, Sourceforge, blogspot, Facebook, Jabber, Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn, Mastadon “…we didn’t start the fire (flame-war?)…” OK, maybe we did.

I hope this is useful, or at least interesting. It may wind up just being a mix of introspection, hubris or narcissism, it may be part of working up the nerve to quit Twitter as I quit Facebook in 2016, maybe I’ll even work up the nerve to go cold turkey as tychi is doing.

Figure 1: RS-232 pin-outs

Figure 1: RS-232 pin-outs

Post 20 of #100DaysToOffload https://100daystooffload.com/

1 Before my time

To being with, we need to set the stage. We’re here. Now. How did we get here? What went before? Understanding these might help us both to live in the world as we find it and figure out how to move forward.

‘- - - … - - -’
Yesterday, <2020-08-16 Sun> was the 100th anniversary of the first trans-Atlantic telegram: https://cryptologicfoundation.org/what-we-do/educate/bytes/this_day_in_history_calendar.html/event/2020/08/16/1597554000/1858-early-telegraph-communications/77123 In a very real sense, the telegram was the beginning our digital age.
Telegraphs, Phones, Blind Kids and Steve Jobs
Phil Lapsley wrote a fascinating book called “Explode The Phone”. It is fascinating story of technology and hacking culture from telegraphs to somewhere after Steve Jobs and Woz were going door to door in the Berkeley dorms selling little black boxes. Phil gave a keynote at USENIX Security one year and I was there and talked to him a bit … part of his passion was to record the “Phone Phreak” culture that lead directly to the modern “Hacking” (good sense) culture while enough of the principals were still around. I talked to “Captin Crunch”, one of the main subjects of the book at ToorCon one year. What a character. The entire hacker/blackhat/freedom-to-tinker movements (and Apple Computer) owe him homage. Just don’t give him a piggy-back ride. Phil was also the author of Network News Transport Protocl (NNTP) for for Usenet and we may get to why Usenet, pathalias, GNUS and friends may or may not have been a good idea in later posts.

I want to pick up the story where I have personal history and Phil’s book, conveniently runs right up to about that point.

I guess one of my goals parallels his: to document bits of how we got to the “Social Media” (and “walled gardens”) of today, as I’ve live through and been a small player in bits of it.