Claire L. Evans is a LA-based writer, musician and the author of Broad Band: The Untold Story of the Women Who Made the Internet. She’s also one of the most articulate and witty people we’ve met to reflect on the state of the Internet today.
When we first met Claire in Copenhagen last year, we were particularly intrigued by the stories she captured about how the first online communities came about in the 70s, 80s and 90s. It made us think: what can we learn from these early examples for how we connect online today?
So we hopped on a transcontinental call with Claire to find out. We talked about how she met the women who built the internet, how they translated traditional communication formats to the digital world, and what we can learn from early virtual communities about power dynamics, politics and gender bias today.
To learn more about Claire and her book, check her website.
Here are some favorite quotes from our talk:
07:18 “We’re in this really strange period. The internet evolves and changes so quickly and so completely that sometimes it can feel it completely erased itself culturally and written new conventions every day and it’s easy to forget how different the internet once was and it’s difficult to identify when the major changes happened, because we’re too much in it, you know, we’re like a frog in a boiling pot of water. So looking back at the early internet, the internet that I grew up using, really spending time with it allowed me to internalise how significant the changes have been and how much of an impact it has had on our culture, in such a way that I thought it was important to share.”
18:53 “The major change between the social networks of yore and the social networks of today is capitalism, money. Nobody who was running a BBS system in the 80s or 70s was doing it for the money really, [...] no one was selling ads, ad data about their users, they were trying to create the best social environment possible because people paid by the hour.”
31:38 “All of the early virtual communities struggled with all those questions of self-governance and who was in charge and what was okay, but at the same time that’s part of what it is to make a place or to build a community, it’s what makes it real.”
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