arduinna: a tarot-card version of Linus from Peanuts, carrying a lamp as The Hermit (Default)
[personal profile] arduinna
(If you want to link to these and keep the cut tags intact for people, link to my front page or link to this archive page)

For the Meta Month of March thing ([community profile] month_of_meta), someone asked for "Tales of fandom past. Anyone who was around in the mailing-list era or before...I want to hear How Things Were Different Back In The Day."

Which made me feel both really old and like a raw newbie again (there were so many days before The Day! so many people have been around so very much longer than me!). But I also thought to myself, well, this is something I can do. I was there, I really enjoyed it very much, and it won't be that hard. It'll be a little bit long maybe, but not too bad.

Then I started writing. I wasn't entirely sure where to start it, or what angle to approach it from, so I had five or six different starts written out. And then I just started writing, and writing, and writing.

Yeah, this got ridiculously long, even for me, so I'm breaking it out into three posts.

First the disclaimers and caveats: This is what my experience of mailing-list-based fandom 10-18 years ago (oh dear god) was like, to the best of my recollection. Other people had different experiences, sometimes hugely different, depending on when they came into fandom, what fandom was their gateway, whether they were monofannish or not, whether they were into slash or not, whether they lurked or were active, etc. The only thing that would be mostly the same for everyone is that posts were made, distributed, and read via email.

I had written up a giant step-by-step explanation of my fannish background for context, but it boils down to this: I started out in SF fandom in 1980, found a few slash zines in a dealer's room around 1985, and then totally failed to connect further with media and especially slash fandom until around 1994, when I got on the internet through work and discovered Forever Knight mailing lists. I knew about newsgroups but for some reason they intimidated me, and I stuck to lists; looking back, I regret that, as the newsgroups were hugely active and I probably would have had a lot of fun if I could have adapted to the way they worked.

My personal experience is with Western, tv-based fandoms that revolved around discussion of the source, producing fanworks (which wasn't a word yet - we wrote fanfic, drew art, made vids, tribbed to or edited or published or agented zines), consuming fanworks (likewise), and to some degree attending (or putting on) cons. If you came in through SF fandom, you might say all of that, including the participation in lists/newsgroups/cons/APAs/zines, was your fanac, a term that I wish had gained as much traction as fanworks, because it doesn't narrow down the field of "people who actively create fandom" to people with creative urges.

As time went on I slid more and more toward slash-based fandom, but with the same emphasis as before on discussion, fanworks, and interaction.

Okay, so, with all of that out of the way, here's my take on what mailing-list fandom was like, from about 1994 to the early/mid-2000s.

The medium defined the message

Which is always true, of course. The technology defined how fandom interacted. Pre-net, things moved at the speed of physical mail and phone calls and annual conventions.

In the mid-90s, when I got online, the internet was blazing fast by comparison. You could post a message to a mailing list and dozens or even hundreds of people could read it almost immediately, and respond. Netscape Navigator had just come out, following on from Mosaic, so there was even a graphical web where people could post text and images that just stayed there for anyone to see; people were learning HTML to have pretty text and pages. It was amazing.


Most people were on dialup, unless they were lucky enough to be students at universities that provided free ethernet, or using office computers that were connected to a T1 line (many workplaces were also on dialup). For everyone else, the mid-90s meant phone lines, at anything from 9,600 baud to 56.6Kbps.

When I got online, 33.6kbps modems were recently available, and 28.8k was pretty common. But people were still tailoring their stuff for 14.4k, for people on older systems (hell, there were still people on 9600 baud, although not many).

What do those numbers mean? To download a 5 MB file -- the size of an average mp3 -- would take you about:

9600 -- 90 minutes
14.4K -- 60 minutes
28.8k -- 30 minutes
33.6k -- 25 minutes
56.6k -- 15 minutes (this didn't exist yet when I got online)

Those speeds are rough estimates, if you weren't using your connection for anything else, if there was no line noise, if your connection was at its peak, and if whatever you were downloading from was reasonably fast. (And if no one picked up your phone to make a call, and borked your download so you had to start over again.) They could be a lot slower than that, too.

Most people weren't downloading files that were that huge, but even smaller files took a long time.

Most people paid by the minute for their connection; even as monthly data plans gained traction in North America in the mid-to-late '90s, Europe generally remained on a by-minute scheme until broadband came into effect (which also meant that Europeans in general switched to broadband faster, since that was cheaper for them, whereast the monthly broadband costs were higher than the monthly phone costs for North Americans, and early broadband wasn't that much faster.)

Even if they had a monthly plan, pre-broadband they were still tying up their only phone line to be online. Very few people had cell phones, and if they had them, it was for work or emergencies. A few people would install a second phone line just for Internet, but that was expensive and not very common. The general idea for most people was to log on, download your mail, and log off to read it. People would compose answers offline and queue them up, then log on and send them in a batch.

Napster was the first file-sharing system; it appeared around 1999. It was possible to trade files around before then (email, IRC, Usenet, ftp sites, etc.), but not easy, and free space (for putting thing up so people could download them) was limited.

Signal-to-noise: bandwidth and storage

The slow connections and minute-based charges meant that the key to everything in the early days was "relevance": people wanted wheat with no chaff. The polite thing to do was assume that people were connecting at a lower bit rate than was possible, and tailor your online activity accordingly.

You were entirely welcome to write long posts -- people were far more willing to read long posts then, in fact -- but you pissed people off if you quoted too much of the material you were responding to, posted something off-topic, posted spam, posted "me too" (especially if quoting the entire original), had giant ASCII art* at the end of your post, or otherwise took up space to no purpose.

People paid attention to signal-to-noise ratios, and if you generated more noise than signal, you heard about it.

(For me, that training still holds; it makes the modern culture of "likes" and "+1" and "IAWTC" very alien, even though it grew up around me, because to me all of that is noise that just gets in the way of the signal. It's a complete cultural 180.)

Storage was also crucial. You had to know how much room things took up on your computer as well as in your email messages, and you were at pains to keep sizes down to keep things running smoothly. (As an example, a family member got a home computer in 1995 that had a whopping 750 MB of space on it; we'd never imagined such a gigantic computer. It probably had 4 MB of RAM. My current phone, in my pocket, has almost 50 times as much storage and 125 times as much memory.)

Early email clients went a little wiggy if you had too much mail in the inbox; moving it into folders helped, but email was a storage hog in general, usually using up more space than anything else on your system, and the only way to keep things functioning properly was to regularly clean your mail out, only keeping crucial things.

When you backed things up, you did it onto floppies -- which weren't really floppy at that point, but hey. They held 1.4 MB of data; huge in comparison to the 5 1/4" floppies I'd used in the 80s. I had stacks of the smaller ones, and in fact just threw out a pile of unused labels for them a few weeks ago.

ISPs limited most incoming mail spools to about 1 MB, IIRC, and once you went over that, your mail started bouncing (you cleared it by downloading your mail; if you forgot to set your mail client to delete the mail off the server once it downloaded, you were eventually screwed). Back in the day, it could take days or even weeks to hit 1 MB of mail; most emails took up about 5k of space. Today, I regularly have a meg or more in a daily mail spool, between HTML-filled email and the occasional picture people send me.

If your ISP offered free web space as part of its package, it was probably 1-2 MB as well; plenty big enough to put up hundreds of text-based pages, even with a few images here and there. Way, way too small for music or video files. You had to pay to get enough space for those.

Size limits: text, images, video, music

Basic netiquette said "use the smallest files possible". This included websites as well as email.

Sizes for everything, including stories, were in kilobytes or in rare cases megabytes; no one did word counts.

Email had to be text-only (still the best way to send to a mailing list, as different clients generate and read html in different ways, and what looks pretty and fun on the sender's end could look barren or like gibberish on the receiver's end). No html, no embedded images, no formatted text, no weird fonts.

You had to make sure your client was set to wrap your line length at 72 characters or fewer, to make sure everyone could read and respond to your posts without them doing anything weird.

Most mailing lists wound up with size limits for posts specifically because of AOL, which had a top limit of something like 25k in the mid-90s, which worked out to... I think 400 lines of plain text? It's been a long time, but I think that's about right. That meant people couldn't post stories over 4,000-5,000 words as one long story, they had to break them up into parts. (But again, no one did word counts; you wrote in a text editor like Notepad and checked the file size, or emailed the story to yourself and looked at the size in your inbox when it arrived.) After a while you just developed a feel for how long a section could be before you had to break it into another post.

A 40k image took 30 seconds to load on a 14.4Kbps modem; 12 seconds on a 28.8Kbps modem; 6 seconds on a 56.6Kbps modem.

Website guidelines generally suggested keeping a page to under 60k total, including all images; if your page took longer than a minute to load, people would get bored and wander off. (Some sites worked around this, like the Lurker's Guide to Babylon 5, which handled it by putting a link on the front page that said "link here to preload your image cache" -- the link went to a single page that included every image -- mostly nav buttons -- used on the site, so you could let that page load, then browse more easily across all the other pages. The "image heavy" page was about 50k total.)

So pictures were small and low-resolution; videos were compressed to the point that they were barely watchable. Embedded music on sites was rare and when it existed, was often in midi format.

Counterbalancing some of the size issues were monitor resolutions; most people were on 14-15" monitors that had 600x480 resolution or, if you had a really modern monitor, 800x600. So a 216x144 video (yes, they got posted that size -- my vidding partner and I put up a vid that size in 2002) would take up a third of your screen, if you were on 600x480. Not that tiny, at that low a resolution, and 360x240 was considered a very decent video size.

The compression was still pretty crappy, though.

By 1999, when Napster came along, 56.6k modems were pretty widespread, and felt pretty fast. Even with that, though, the people I know who downloaded music off Napster (not I, of course!) would wait till they were going to bed to queue up 2-3 songs to download overnight. Otherwise you'd wind up tying up your phone line all day, with no chance to do anything else. By that point, hard drives had grown to multiple gigs; I had 10 gigs in 1999, and graduated to I think 40 gigs a year later. (By way of comparison, my current phone, in my pocket, has 32 gigs of space.)

To get an idea of what video looked like on the web back then, try this copy of "David Duchovny, Why Won't You Love Me?" (right click to download, I seriously doubt this will stream). The song is by Bree Sharp; the video is by X-Files production staff who put it together for the cast Christmas party. The datestamp on my copy of this is June 1999; it was either on a website that I downloaded it from, or it got sent to me during an IRC or AIM chat (a chat thing seems more likely - a website would have faced a takedown, so it probably passed from hand to hand). I got another copy later, higher quality though not by much, as part of a miscellaneous-XF-stuff tape.

This is why online video was called "squintyvision" for so long, and why vidders didn't start putting their work up until much later.

(Huh, looks like someone put a cleaned-up version on Youtube last year: It's worth watching, it's a lot of fun.)

Things were pricy

I started out in fandom on a work computer in 1994. I bought my first home PC in late 1996, specifically to participate more easily in fandom (I'd been staying at work late and going in on the weekends to have email convos with other fans). It was a Packard Bell that had a 4-gig hard drive and I believe 8MB RAM. It had a Pentium processor, which was very exciting -- first generation, very spiffy, very speedy! -- at 166 MHz. I bought a 15-inch color monitor to go with it that had a top resolution of 800x600 pixels, and splurged on an inkjet printer.

The whole shebang cost me about $3,000.

A year or two later, I added a second, 6-gig hard drive and upped my RAM to the max 16 MB the computer could handle. The total upgrade cost me about $500.

On top of that, I was paying $25/month for my ISP, plus another $20/month for AOL, because I wanted to be able to take part in fannish AOL chats, and also wanted an AIM handle.

A couple of years after that, my creaky ancient 4-year-old system was frustrating me too much, so I bought another computer for about $2,000 -- it would have been a bit less, but I went for the very tempty 17-inch monitor that could handle 1024x768 resolution. Then I bought a laser printer for easier fanfic printing.

After that, I couldn't cope with shelling out thousands every few years for a new computer -- I mean, seriously, I'd spent over $6,000 in four years flat (there were more upgrades I didn't bother listing here, as well) just on hardware. So I babied that second computer along for ten years, upgrading it in bits and pieces as I could.

The difference between my first computer and my second computer is that there's no way my first computer could have been upgraded enough to make it functional in the mid-2000s, not enough to make me comfortable, anyway. Computer tech had advanced that fast in those first few years. (Although it's a good thing I shelled out for the pricey ethernet connector when I bought the second one, even though it seemed silly, because really who could afford ethernet? Pft. Hah.)

There were ways around it; if you were in school, you could use school computers; you could use library computers. But if you wanted to connect from home, there really wasn't much of an under-$1,000 option for a good many years.

Looking back on it, it all looks sort of wretched, no? Slow, creaky, limited, expensive.

But at the time, it was amazing. $3,000 for a 4 G system sounds like a lot of money 15 years later -- but 10 years earlier, I'd've paid $3k just for a 15 MB hard drive and installation kit, plus another $2k if I wanted a second unit. My computer had a graphical user interface! It had a web browser! (I didn't have one at work; we didn't need them. We had email, and if you knew enough to ask, you could get a newsreader, too. What else could you possibly need?)It had an internal modem!

We were living the good life.

* Ascii art, taken from -- this guy has a ton of ascii art uploaded, and keeps adding more. I was going to go for a simpler/clearer picture, but then realized I have this same image as an icon, for comparison.

Which is pretty much this:

(I can't believe I had to put ascii art in as a picture. wtf are we supposed to be using now that pre is deprecated?)
back to post

part 2
part 3

(no subject)

Date: 2012-03-31 02:10 pm (UTC)
kass: Blair Sandburg looking wistful (Blair)
From: [personal profile] kass
omg, this is so cool. You rock.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-03-31 03:48 pm (UTC)
rivkat: Mulder and Scully (mulder and scully)
From: [personal profile] rivkat
This is bringing back such memories!

(no subject)

Date: 2012-03-31 03:48 pm (UTC)
turlough: Turlough & the Doctor perched on a rock, behind the scenes of the Fifth Doctor adventure 'Planet of Fire' ((dr who) original otp)
From: [personal profile] turlough
You're making me feel all nostalgic :-)

(no subject)

Date: 2012-03-31 04:26 pm (UTC)
dorinda: Two hands, one dangling a silver Comedy mask and one dangling a gold Tragedy mask, under the words THE PLAYERS. (Sting_players)
From: [personal profile] dorinda
I'm so glad you wrote all this up! It's really valuable.

It sounds like you and I came into fandom and participation in fairly similar ways, though I spent more time on Usenet than you did. Before the web (which I started using with Mosaic), I used Gopher through an individual gopher program, as well as FTP sites and Usenet.

I seem to remember that some of the early collections of fanfiction available via FTP would put a document at the beginning of the directory with a list of what all the title abbreviations in the directory stood for. So I'd start by ftping that doc, and then use it as a map. (Although the titles certainly didn't tell you everything you might want to know!)

(For me, that training still holds; it makes the modern culture of "likes" and "+1" and "IAWTC" very alien, even though it grew up around me, because to me all of that is noise that just gets in the way of the signal. It's a complete cultural 180.)

Yes yes yes. This gets at a profound disconnect I still feel... some of my preferences and behaviors I've had no trouble changing over time, but this is not one of them. (Just look at the lengths of some of my journal comments! Though only in journals where I feel they'd be welcome, usually my personal friends.)

(no subject)

Date: 2012-04-06 03:50 pm (UTC)
dorinda: A little clam made of pink and grey yarn, peeking out of its shell with googly eyes. (clam_cute)
From: [personal profile] dorinda
I really love the fannish style of engagement that slows down a bit to really think about things, and talk them through, rather than just churning across the surface of everything as fast as possible. ♥

I keep forgetting to tell you that this phrasing has put a metaphor into my head that I am finding very useful! I've been mulling it over all week.

It goes like this: more and more, a lot of fannish interaction feels like waterskiing, "churning across the surface of everything as fast as possible." So the value is in speed, and zipping back and forth, and flying past things while shouting WHEEEEEEE. The more speed, the further you waterski across the surface and jump the wake and watch the light sparkling off the ripples, the better. People have waterski races, or do that thing where a bunch of waterskiing people all form a pyramid. *g*

Whereas I would say my strong preference is instead for SCUBA diving, "slow[ing] down a bit to really think about things, and talk them through". The value is in depth, taking your time to sink down and down and circle around things--no rushing, no skipping, no races, no pyramids. It's about floating in this different world and examining what you find there with care and fascination. It can be intense, in a different way. You can't take your time and get close to things like that when you're waterskiing. I vastly prefer flippering around in the depths. As long as I don't get hit in the head by a waterskiier whenever I come up to refill my tanks.

(Besides, SCUBA diving is where you find the clams! :D )

(no subject)

Date: 2012-03-31 08:06 pm (UTC)
franzeska: (Default)
From: [personal profile] franzeska
Dude! So awesome! I love hearing about this part of fandom history. I started more on Usenet than on mailing lists, and by the time I wandered over to egroups/onelist/yahoo groups exclusively, I was in anime fandoms and Harry Potter (and often the very anime-y parts thereof). I never had an AOL account, and for some reason never really used IRC back then.

A lot of my experience is still similar to yours, except for the difficulty of finding fandom. I imagine I was just looking for canon discussion when I wandered over to I certainly didn't know about fic yet. Or really, really adult Mulder/Scully porn epics. Or slash. Or K/S and various fandom history things. But pretty much every sort of topic that has been ~secret~ in fandom was being discussed openly there, and it's not like people didn't know there were 13 year-olds all over the place either. I've been really public about fandom ever since. :D

I wrote up some thoughts on Usenet a while back, and there are other people chiming in in the comments:

And here's a Fanlore article I wish everyone would add to:

(no subject)

Date: 2012-04-01 05:44 pm (UTC)
franzeska: (Default)
From: [personal profile] franzeska
Hah. Ah, yes, Methos. I wouldn't be too surprised if a lot of the first slash I read was stuff about Methos.

Even the group names in were educational! (In that "Oh my god, Urban Dictionary, is that really something people DO?" kind of way, except without Urban Dictionary, so it was harder for me to look things up. :D)

KITTY! *brainmelt*

(no subject)

Date: 2012-04-01 09:56 pm (UTC)
ithildin: (Methos - Easily Amused)
From: [personal profile] ithildin
I remember an FK BNF freaking when she found out Nigel Bennett had been reading fic on JADFE.

And Methos arriving - the first con Peter did, and you and I were the only ones in our group not there. We spent the weekend on IRC writing consolation fic for each other.
Edited Date: 2012-04-03 01:39 am (UTC)

Question about Fanlore article that is linked

Date: 2012-04-07 01:48 am (UTC)
klangley56: (Default)
From: [personal profile] klangley56
Hi, Franzeska:

I read the Fanlore article you linked to, and this caught my eye:

"In 1992: A fan talks of Star Trek and computer bulletin boards and makes the first mention of the word "internet" and "email" in the letterzine, Comlink . . ."

I couldn't tell from the context if the meaning was supposed to be that this was the first mention of the Internet anywhere in print fandom, or if it was supposed to mean only that it was the first mention of it in "Comlink."

Do you know?

I mention it because several years ago I made note of the following on one of my mailing list groups:

"The first mention I recall of
USENET was in the ST letterzine INTERSTAT in June 1984. In May 1990 a S&H letterzine, FRIENZ, made the first mention I saw of 'the Internet--a wide-area computer network that reaches hundreds of universities and
organizations worldwide.'"

Just curious.
franzeska: (Default)
From: [personal profile] franzeska
My guess is that it means just in that letterzine, but I suppose you'd have to ask whoever wrote that bit.
morgandawn: (Default)
From: [personal profile] morgandawn
If you go and check out the Comlink letterzine (see the footnote in the article for which issue) it says: "this letterzine". So 1992 was the first mention of net in the letterzine Comlink. Hope that helps!

(no subject)

Date: 2012-03-31 09:00 pm (UTC)
klia: (ronon)
From: [personal profile] klia
Thank you, that was a fun read!

I didn't realize we got online at roughly the same time, which also coincided with my acquisition of my first pair of slash goggles. Coincidentally. *g* The first computer I got online with was my ex's Amiga that I connected to a (IIRC) 14.4 modem. And almost immediately, friends vouched for me and got me onto Virgule, which led to other mailing lists (and Escapade).

(no subject)

Date: 2012-03-31 10:00 pm (UTC)
princessofgeeks: (Default)
From: [personal profile] princessofgeeks
OMG the nostalgia.

I bought my first computer in 1997.

And I remember getting email at work! What a radical thing it was!!!!

You know, I'm glad you mentioned the whole signal to noise thing regarding things like IAWT and +1. I have those instincts too, but I had never figured out why until now!!!

(no subject)

Date: 2012-04-03 05:41 am (UTC)
shrift: Zhaan from Farscape, with the text, "My fandom has plant sex." (my fandom has plant sex)
From: [personal profile] shrift
Oh, snap, cc:mail! At one point in, oh... probably 2002 or early 2003? I was working in IT, and a manager jokingly accused me of hoarding information because I was the only one left in the department who knew how to fix cc:mail. I had a paper manual to look up all its error codes.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-04-01 01:20 am (UTC)
synecdochic: torso of a man wearing jeans, hands bound with belt (Default)
From: [personal profile] synecdochic
ASCII art in signatures! Oh, man, that brings back memories of MCQUARY LIMIT. KIBO. (Like many others, I was Allowed.)

I sometimes go through intense periods of missing Usenet so fucking hard.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-04-03 04:05 am (UTC)
gchick: Small furry animal wearing a tin-foil hat (Default)
From: [personal profile] gchick
I keep up with a group of friends that got together in secret in the aftermath of a truly horrible bout of (non-fannish, but it somehow doesn't matter) usenet wank in 1995 or so. These days we mostly keep up on a facebook group.

I feel half-old and half-amazed when I think of this internet and all that she has been through. (And I still want a finely-tuned killfile everywhere.)

(no subject)

Date: 2012-04-03 04:10 am (UTC)
synecdochic: torso of a man wearing jeans, hands bound with belt (Default)
From: [personal profile] synecdochic
True story, we have a bug open for killfile on DW *G*

(no subject)

Date: 2012-04-01 01:29 am (UTC)
embroiderama: (Default)
From: [personal profile] embroiderama

Sizes for everything, including stories, were in kilobytes or in rare cases megabytes; no one did word counts.

I remember a few people using word counts because they were still more in print zine mode. It was always confusing to me because I had NO IDEA how much story 5,000 words was, but I knew just what to expect from 35k.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-04-01 12:59 pm (UTC)
embroiderama: (Default)
From: [personal profile] embroiderama
Hee! I've mostly forgotten what size stories are by k, probably because I left fandom when LJ was just becoming popular and then came back when LJ was the main thing. But speaking of bloat, I remember that for a while around the late 90's/2000 a lot of (clueless LOL) people were posting fic to their personal web sites using Word or other bloat-inducing programs to format things in HTML and then using the size of that bloated file to describe their story. So, like, I'd click on what I thought was going to be a 50k story and find what was by all rights a 20k story. *headdesk* Wordcount does eliminate that uncertainty.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-04-01 06:31 pm (UTC)
ratcreature: Tech-Voodoo: RatCreature waves a dead chicken over a computer. (voodoo)
From: [personal profile] ratcreature
Those bloated Word generated html files never displayed right on my linux system. All the smart quotes were messed up and a bunch of other things too. I ended up writing myself a bash script to clean up fanfic automatically, so I could see the stories without all the wacky symbols, and debloated them in the same step.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-04-01 02:09 am (UTC)
lunabee34: (Default)
From: [personal profile] lunabee34
Oh wow. This is so cool. I really appreciate hearing about your experiences.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-04-01 01:15 pm (UTC)
corilannam: (Default)
From: [personal profile] corilannam
What a great look back! I got into online fandom in 1996 and remember it being very much the way you describe. I was in college and almost got fired from my work study job because I kept sneaking into my glorious, miraculous email to check for mailing list posts and personal emails. I did everything through telnet then - emailed through pine, browsed through lynx, chatted on the built-in irc app. Getting AOL (and thus AIM) was the coolest thing ever, although as I recall my roommates *really* did not appreciate me tying up the phone line so much!

I'm looking forward to reading the next two parts!

(no subject)

Date: 2012-04-01 08:16 pm (UTC)
hradzka: Cassidy, from Garth Ennis's PREACHER. (Default)
From: [personal profile] hradzka
This series is *so great.* Thanks for posting it.

Totally agreed on the original content thing. I come from the heavy discussion of canon part of fandom, and as a result I keep grumping about how shallow modern fannish appreciation is, etc.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-04-01 09:50 pm (UTC)
ithildin: (Forever Knight - Master)
From: [personal profile] ithildin
Remember the Forever Knight bloopers, that we had due to a certain actor on the show, who 'accidentally' left a copy at a room party at a con? I remember trading a copy of Highlander bloopers for it, and my boss at the time was freaking, sure it was an FBI sting LOL.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-04-02 01:26 am (UTC)
erinptah: (Default)
From: [personal profile] erinptah
This is amazing. Far and above what I had hoped for. Enjoying it immensely <3

(no subject)

Date: 2012-04-02 01:46 am (UTC)
amaresu: hand writing with a feather quill on partchment with inkwell nearby (quill and ink)
From: [personal profile] amaresu
So many memories. I got into fandom a bit later than you, 1999, but it still applies so much. It took me forever to figure out what word counts would mean for a fic.

Also it's interesting to look at some modern fannish activities, like podfic, and realize that they just wouldn't've been possible back then.

My mailing lists always had the monthly discussion about proper etiquette too. Cut your posts, use the subject lines, understand that most people are using a slower modem than you.

So many memories.


Date: 2012-04-02 04:33 pm (UTC)
squidgiepdx: (Default)
From: [personal profile] squidgiepdx
As someone who was there way back when (Squidge.ORG came about in 1994, and we had mailing lists and websites starting in 1995ish), this takes me back.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-04-03 05:00 am (UTC)
kerri: (Default)
From: [personal profile] kerri
This is cool :D Wandered over here from a link from someone on my flist. I came in towards the tail end of this, not having much access to the internet until the late 90's, but still. :D

(no subject)

Date: 2012-04-03 05:25 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
oh goodness, this was ME, completely. I came into fandom in about 1999, when I got my first computer with internet access.

I still associate the buzzzzzzzz click wheeoo wheooo ccccccccccchhhhhhhhhhhhkkkk sound of a dialup modem connecting with fun and excitement and involvement. The changes happened so gradually but those heady first few years of fandom were absolutely amazing and some of the best years of my life. It's such a part of the furniture now, and other things have moved up front (although fandom's not gone from my life, not at all) but my twenties were brilliant, all thanks to those clunky old computers and dicky connections.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-04-03 05:26 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Sigh. That post above is from me, lydia_petze. I AM on Dreamwidth, but do you think I can remember my password? LOL.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-04-13 03:02 am (UTC)
lucifuge5: (Default)
From: [personal profile] lucifuge5
I still associate the buzzzzzzzz click wheeoo wheooo ccccccccccchhhhhhhhhhhhkkkk sound of a dialup modem connecting with fun and excitement and involvement.

LOL, so do I. Especially when the modem is singing its "let's go to the internet!" song at, like, 2 in the morning (which is the time I'd usually be online reading fic since, you know, I couldn't tie up the one phone line.) *g*

(no subject)

Date: 2012-04-03 08:50 am (UTC)
iibnf: (Default)
From: [personal profile] iibnf
I'm depressed that 1994 is considered 'old school'. You make me feel positively ancient...

(no subject)

Date: 2012-04-03 10:51 am (UTC)
goodbyemyfancy: (Default)
From: [personal profile] goodbyemyfancy
This could have totally been me writing out this entry :) I am now waxing nostalgic for the days of using BBSs, using unix and pine for email, and when having a 28.8 dial up meant I could could dl an image! I still collect ASCII art for the fun of it :)

Thank you for spending the time writing these up and sharing them - it's wonderful!!!

(no subject)

Date: 2012-04-03 02:57 pm (UTC)
domarzione: (Default)
From: [personal profile] domarzione
I am a fannish contemporary (I started on my first mailing list, which I found on gopher in late 1993), so this is just a wonderful reminiscence and I thank you for that.

I not-so-fondly remember getting slapped on the wrist by a mailing list mod for blowing the 100Kb daily posting limit (with 102Kb; didn't factor in the headers when doing my own pre-posting tonnage check). Such a strange concept that must seem now.

[I had a Tandy 1000 with no hard drive (booting from DOS floppy!) that I used into the mid-1990s. Now I've got a 1TB portable external drive that runs on USB power. Still blows my mind. ]

Also thank you (sincerely) for making me feel like the interwebs version of Clint Eastwood in Grand Turino with the sitting on my virtual front porch with a Garand in my hand yelling at the kids to get off my damned lawn. Because I haven't quite adapted to the world of +1s and kudos and the echo chamber that is twitter and any other medium where the signal to noise ratio is so... off and fannish interpersonal communication is so casual.

I have feedback saved from the late 1990s and early aughts because they were so long and thoughtful -- the product of however long spent offline reading what I'd written and considering what to say before taking the time to get online to send it. I still am grateful for every bit of feedback now, mind, but it's been a long time since "I liked this!" was not the norm.

... also, the ASCII art. Because oh, yeah. A skill I never mastered.

Anyway, this is awesome and thank you for taking the time to write it.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-04-04 07:29 pm (UTC)
mikononyte: (Default)
From: [personal profile] mikononyte
I feel like such a dinosaur trying to even understand half of what you wrote.

I started in SF fandom around 1966 or so. Fanfiction? what was that? LOL When we started writing it, publishing or disseminating it, it was with typewriters and postage stamps. SF clubs (many of them Star Trek affiliated in those days) had yearly books they published; moving up to montly magazines also typed and mailed.

I remember when one man introduced a computer to the club. OMG it was like some demonic monster! It needed special codes to enter and it took longer to put in an article than to just type the silly thing up!

Fandom has come a long way baby. XD

I loves me some fan history

Date: 2012-04-07 02:37 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)

Thanks for this, Arduinna. This is right in my fannish wheelhouse, as you know, and I enjoyed it extremely muchly.

You also may recall an essay I did several years ago, which touches on a few similar points:

Although this essay, being several years old, might seem to some to be a bit dated at this point . . .

And speaking of "being dated," I find I am *highly* amused by all the "waxing nostalgic" that is flowing through the comments. I'm in my 40th year of fanac; I added Internet fandom to the pile 15 years ago. To me, that's still all *recent* history, not nostalgia. :-)

Like many of those in this discussion, my closest and most enduring friendships were formed through fandom (35+ years, 30+ years, and more). That is the aspect of fandom I always will appreciate the most.

Thanks again.

Re: I loves me some fan history

Date: 2012-04-07 02:38 am (UTC)
klangley56: (Blake - Lightbringer)
From: [personal profile] klangley56
Oops! Didn't mean to send that in anonymously.

Sorry. :-)

(no subject)

Date: 2012-04-09 01:54 pm (UTC)
eustacia_vye28: (Time Turner)
From: [personal profile] eustacia_vye28
OMG, this is an amazing trip down memory lane. I remember dialing up with 14.4k modem and mailing lists and all that fun stuff. I didn't really use FTP and Usenet and things other than mailing lists, since I found it hard to understand.

Nostalgia like this is fun. :)

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