Video imagines if Mastodon existed In The 1980s

Originally published at: Video imagines if Mastodon existed In The 1980s | Boing Boing


I live in Philly, and I’m on a local, Philly-centric instance that I love.

Just about the only other locus that would be tempting to me as a Mastodon instance would be the BB BBS community of commenters. if there ever were a BoingBoing-operated, BoingBoing-moderated instance, I’d love to know about it and to join it.


In the nineteen-eighties, the world already had a decentralized communications network that was chock full of questionable content and incessant quibbling. It was called “Usenet” (or “uunet”) and we loved it. The world already had moderated private instances for specific communities. They were called “mailing lists” (or “dlists”) and we loved them.


I think people are aware that usenet and mailing lists existed in the 80s… I’d wager that a fair number of users here even availed themselves of them if they were privileged enough to have a computer that could connect to the internet… of course, not all of us were so privileged.


Most people I remember from those days did not own the computer they were using. They accessed the net through a computer owned by their school or employer. I suppose you might consider a job with network access to be an expression of privilege, but I don’t view a job in and of itself as a privilege.

I also remember a fair number of trolls from those days. Some things never change.

Yeah… kind of my point… MOST of us were not on usenet or on mailing lists, because we did not have that kind of access. :woman_shrugging:

Snl GIF by Saturday Night Live


But Mastodons did exist in the 1980s! And it was always so upsetting when the grownups wouldn’t believe it!



… thousands of people felt like a lot at the time, but the internet was not a mass medium then and “the world” would remain blissfully ignorant of its crises and dramas for a few more years

The ’80s and early ’90s were the last moments of the basic reality of the twentieth century, where written communication was strongly gatekept and utterly dominated by newspapers and magazines, and “our” (ordinary people’s) mediated communications with each other were almost entirely one on one and verbal (over landline phones) with a resulting culture that was different from what we have now

Those differences, how “we” have all been changed by the internet recently, are a bit more significant than what some tiny subculture was doing during the ’80s :thinking:


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No, that’s Substack. Different thing entirely.

They do such a good job capturing the 80s zeitgeist. Note the modem brand


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