During the same period, other LGBTQ spaces came into existence that linked together online and offline life in a way that anticipated today’s social networking.From primitive dial-up BBSs to AOL (aka “Gay OL”) to dating sites like and Planet Out, online life has always had a strong LGBTQ component that sometimes preceded wider adoption of a new technology.
And while a good deal of the fantasy was G-rated, it was not uncommon for users to engage in role-playing cybersex in private chat.
Sophie, who was in college in the 1990s, created her own MOOs, or object-oriented MUDs, which allowed greater customization by players.
Less computer-savvy people were no longer limited by the services provided by AOL but could participate on websites built by amateurs just by browsing to a URL.
AOL tried to preserve its “walled garden” approach, enticing users to stay within its own network rather than enter the wilds of the Internet, but that inevitably failed because it could never keep up with the spontaneous, decentralized generation of content on the Net.
In the 1980s, the major online spaces outside of the proto-Internet were bulletin board systems, or BBSs: local or regional dial-up networks—often running on a single computer, or a handful of them—operated mostly by hobbyists and enthusiasts.
In 1984, hacker/skateboarder/anarchist/artist Tom Jennings created Fido Net, a homespun alternative to ARPANET that connected BBSs together—40,000 of them by the mid-1990s.Those needs sped the adoption and development of online social life as we know it today.With #grindroutage 2016 over and done with, we can now go back to normal... Not only was it down for several hours, it also happened to be down on a Saturday of all days!Interactions were limited by the sheer slowness of the network.Typical BBSs offered all-text forum discussion, legal and illegal file sharing, and chat rooms, all at excruciatingly low bandwidth: 300, then 1,200, then 2,400 baud—for reference, 300 baud is roughly the speed of a fast typist.Dial-up BBSing, in Mark’s words, was “extraordinarily time-consuming—it was like reading a teletype machine”; it wouldn’t be conducive to expansive discussion and chats until modem speeds improved.