Rheingold and Powazek: Two great tastes that taste great together

Derek “Heather’s Spouse” Powazek interviews Howard “Online Community” Rheingold on the past and future of online community.

I think there has been a partial breakdown of the cooperative ethic that an essential element to the success and growth of the early internet. Back then there was a certain amount of understanding of basic netiquette and an expectation of a cooperative behavior. That was the norm from the very beginning and that has made the internet valuable. Those norms are not located in any handbook, although you can find some basic documents on netiquette. They’ve mostly been taught to newcomers by the people who were already there.

What used to happen was that every September, a bunch of new freshmen would join universities and get their first internet accounts and would start flooding Usenet, asking questions that were already answered in the FAQ and doing other things that were breaches of basic netiquette. They would then be educated by the old-timers, sometimes rather rudely, sometimes more patiently. But the old-timers took the time, even if they were flaming, to pass on the norms.

Link Discuss (Thanks, Derek!)