Old School vs. New School

I often get really nostalgic for the early days of the internet. And not just the internet. Remember BBSs? There were a lot of things that I did back in the day that just are not done now, but were terribly fun. Who actually runs a BBS nowadays?

I ran my first BBS on an original IBM PC with dual 360K floppies and a blazing-fast 1200 baud modem. It was great.
The first piece of software I used was called “Mount Tiamat”. It was basically a message board centered around a trivia ladder. As you answered more questions, the higher you would ascend and gain more power and responsibility for the care and upkeep of the BBS itself. It was genius.
I then moved to QuickBBS (and a 2400 baud rocket!). QuickBBS was a great modular approach to creating a BBS (and it ran well on two floppies). That was about the time I discovered FidoNet which was similar to usenet, except message digests were skipped around the country over modem from one telephone district to another. I actually came across this FidoNet host list not too long ago. Search for “blyberg” and you’ll see my cheesily-named system (you’ll have to search it for the pleasure).
BBSs provided a sense of local community that is gone now. It just no longer exists. In less than a few months, it went away in 1992. Talk about social software.

so I took up mudding, and that ruined my grades. Mudding was great, and still is, though I no longer do it.
I was an “Imm” on a Wheel Of Time-based CircleMud for awhile. From about 1992-1995, Mudding had a golden age. It was wonderful, because not only was it a social meeting place, but it was a collaborative programming environment. I’m sure quite a few CS students cut their teeth on C while programming Muds.

You might remember the days when IRC truly was the wild west.
If you wanted to hold down a channel, you needed multiple bots in disparate geographical locations to protect against someone hacking ops on a net-split.
You literally had to program your soldiers to guard against clones (back in those days, ircd wasn’t equipped to handle clones). If you didn’t do this, you could wind up with 30 clonebots in your channel before you knew it and you’d be wiped out with the dreaded “Excess Flood”. Since “shells” were scarce back then you generally had to work with people all over the globe to ensure yours bots worked together. Yah, that was social software.

Then of course there is Nethack. I’m not sure ascending is something to be proud of. I know my grades sure didn’t ascend due to Nethack! That was anti-social software.

What this all boils down to, I guess, is that I have a love affair with the command-line era. I always will. The type of social connections that we used to make just don’t happen anymore. Those days are gone.


I’d love to see teens rallied to a Nethack tournament. I doubt it would be terribly difficult to develop a scoring module API. If you had a strong-enough base of gamers already, you might just be able to get the players.

An even more blue-sky idea would be a library mud where players could log into a virtual library, search stacks, talk, and fight. Of course it could contain multiple libraries, private “reading rooms”, conference areas, message boards. The possibilities really could be endless.

No, those days are gone. That time had a personality of its own, but I’m seeing glimpses of a new personality emerge in memes and tags and giant calculators and librarians all obsessing over blogs.

And, really, it’s happening for the right reasons with libraries.

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