Editor’s note: This is the second in a series of commissioned essays for The World’s First Tumblr Art Symposium on Saturday, March 9, 2013.
When I sent my first email in the 1990s, the internet was just beginning to hit the mainstream. The idea that we would use the internet to talk to friends we knew offline had yet to take off. Most of the nascent social web culture, from usenet to telnet to AOL chat rooms, consisted of socializing largely with strangers. These strangers might eventually become friends, of course, but they’d start out as strangers in the purest sense of that word. At the outset, you didn’t even know their name, age, location, perhaps not even their gender.