It seems like, for the past few discussions, we’ve been talking about how much change the future has brought. However, with Rheingold’s Daily Life in Cyberspace I realized that many things don’t change. The people who, in 1985, pioneered WELL aren’t that different from us. While the WELL system which Rheingold describes would, in all likelihood, look alien to us, its structure and ideals are omnipresent around the internet of today. While “our” daily lives in Cyberspace have evolved “we” haven’t.
While technology has taken the world of BBS (now extending into social networking) to a whole other level, the fundamentals are the same. We still see people messaging each other, looking up and sharing useful information in a similar manner to WELLs. Sites like Wikipedia, eHow, and even Facebook seem to have been inspired by WELL. However, I think the key aspect of the lack of complete change can be attributed to the people using these sites. Rheingold’s random sampling of users from 1991 reveals that people from all walks of life were using the internet. The diversity show here is just as, if not more, prevalent in our digital society. The fact that the people entrenched in this online culture are similar to those who were in the days of WELLs is why, while the face of these types of sites have changed, their essence is the same.
Looking at all of the message boards and social networking we have now, it’s clear that their roots lie in WELL and programs similar to it. While the advancement of technology has changed the face of these services, their goals and ideals still seem to be fundamentally the same as when WELL was around. The important thing, it seems, is not the programs, but the people using them, which is why I guess that our daily lives in Cyberspace aren’t that different from how they were in the past.