Found in 2 comments
wpietri · 2018-07-16 · Original thread
I don't think the people who created Usenet were entirely unaware of human social dynamics. And the people who created things like Twitter certainly weren't unaware that Usenet, mailing lists, and web forums existed.

But at best, they had an incredibly rosy view of what was going on. E.g., looking back, a Twitter founder claims that in 2006 everyone "was cool":

Given Gabriel's theory, that's obvious bunk. And having talked to some online community pioneers, abuse started pretty much from the get go. Look at all the replies I got when I brought it up on Twitter, for example. Story after story of early experiences of trolling, abuse, etc:

There was (and is) a strong strain of technoutopianism, where we take the shiny new possibility and project a perfect future onto it. This goes back at least as far as the introduction of the telegraph, which many thought would bring about world peace:

As Neiwart documents, though, many of the terrible people online today are intellectual descendants of the terrible people who were doing their social networking in person and via the mail:

wpietri · 2018-03-11 · Original thread
For those interested in the history and process of radicalization, I strongly recommend David Neiwart's book "Alt America". [1] He's a journalist who spent decades covering the "Patriot" fringe in the US, which often had elements of white supremacy, conspiracy thinking, anti-government paranoia, and other nuttery. It gives him unique depth on how the Internet, for all its benefits, also made it much easier for political extremists to connect and organize.


View this Book on Amazon