20 November 2008

Early 'net culture

I stumbled across this tale of an email list in '93. By failing to handle a prolific and obsessive individual, the list community broke down.
In the first week of August, the list began receiving essays and letters from someone who called herself "Doctress Neutopia." She immediately proved herself to be a prolific writer, highly imaginative and not prone to holding back her opinion. The writings of The Doctress dealt consistently with issues of sexism and the oppression of females by males, and were generally of tremendous length and great personal investment. In shorter e-mailed notes, she spoke of adding a love saga to the rapidly-developing Fixion project. She also told us she was looking for "the A/O (Alpha/Omega) Man," who would join her in rule over the Earth when the Lovolution came. (In an early letter to me she asked if I was that man; a little stunned, I bounced back Mitch's address, figuring she was looking for the author of A/O.) Day after day, her writings poured in, screenful after screenful. She seemed to care little for our already-developing lines of work, preferring instead to stick to her own campaign and agenda. For a week or so, her words seemed illuminating in a unique way; her over-the-top, egocentric, dyslexic metaphor seemed intentionally postmodern, and her research skills were undeniable (even if her prose tended toward hyperbole). The Doctress was unconditionally welcomed to the list. Relatively speaking; Aleph had found another weird sister.
Reading it was tinged with nostalgia for the Mondo 2000 era ... while also being a timeless example of the challenges of virtual community.


Al said...

I remember Doctress Neutopia from some of the Usenet groups that I was on (probably soc.religion groups) from back then. She was quite a character.

As I recall, she eventually had a romantic relationship with Richard Stallman (yes, that Stallman).

Jonathan Korman said...

a romantic relationship with Richard Stallman

I fear that try as I might, these are words I will never be able to forget.

Al said...

Just don't visualize... One of my Asatru friends who later became a transgendered Theravadan Buddhist went to school with her at Amherst, I believe it was.