America On-Line

Jeff Pack, Brown University '99 (English 112, 1996)

My senior year, I got both a 14,400 baud modem and a subscription to America On-Line. I spent far too much time (and far too much money) there for a while - it was far superior to the BBS's on which I'd previously spent time. I could read messages posted on various bulletin boards with topics ranging from civil liberties to poetry to the social life of teenagers, or talk about such topics in live "chat rooms". AOL even had an Internet connection so that I could send e-mail to and receive e-mail from various computers around the world (though I knew few others at that time with e-mail addresses) or explore (painfully slow) World-Wide Web sites.

Most of my observations of the "new digerati" come from observing people my age on AOL. Very few of these people seem to be "into" computers (except for a few hacker wannabes); they're more concerned with socializing, and the computer - just like the telephone - is a tool to let them do that but - just like the telephone - isn't anything special.

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