BBSs and History

A new documentary called BBS: The Documentary is out, and it inspired a retrospective on BBSs at Wired. I haven’t seen the documentary yet, but the Wired article definitely took me back to my first flirtations with cyberspace.

I got online in 1991 and instantly fell in love. It led to my first law review article which, appropriately enough, discussed the legal treatment of BBSs–a topic that seemed so important then but of course now looks silly in the era of websites and blogs/RSS readers and wireless ubiquitious networks. I’m not sure the legal issues have changed radically; some issues (like the interplay between private property rights and free speech rights) will continue on into infinity regardless of the newest technological tools that create the conflict-du-jour.

I really don’t miss the BBS era. It was chaotic and slow. Nevertheless, thinking about the era does make me a little nostaglic, just like other kinetic times in my life like adolescence/high school. We tend to suppress the bad and remember the good; and the good was pretty good, but there definitely was some bad mixed in. We do have it much better now.

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