?

Log in

No account? Create an account

Previous Entry | Next Entry

GEnie and LiveJournal

I've mentioned elsewhere on my user info page that I'm an old GEnie user. I'd now like to explain what that experience meant to me, because it has some bearing on my activities on LJ now.

When I joined GEnie, usenet was thriving with flamewars that made nuclear seem pretty tame in comparison. Compuserve was spelled Compu$erve, and the on-line for pay services were very, very expensive; you got free internet access -- and there was no www -- if you were a university student or professor, or somehow related to someone who was, because they were the backbone of the internet. Everything was done by phone, and everything was done by really slow modems (1200 bps was state of the art).

So everything was done in text.

GEnie was a very primitive bbs. There were no threaded discussions; there were topics. You logged in and you "read all new" and all of the topics you marked could then be read at your leisure. But you had to read all the posts in order to then add a comment at the end. This was frustrating at the start, and much-loved at the end, because it was like a conversation -- you replied, after reading 70 messages, to the things that were important, rather than to every point, and if the conversation did wander, it sort of wandered by group fiat.

GEnie was a shock to me after usenet because it was so polite. People didn't nitpick your typos and spelling, and there was a lot less aggressive territoriality. This was instantly more comfortable to me; I did post some in some of the usenet groups, but I could literally spend hours on each post, combing it for errors over and over again before it went up, to make it as bullet-proof as possible. On GEnie, I assumed that it was simply conversation, without teeth or fangs, and I posted more.

The reason I joined GEnie in the first place was because there were so many authors there. And editors. And an agent or two. I had sold my first novel, but I had no publication credits, and while I understood how the bookstore worked, I really didn't understand publishing all that well. SFWA members got a free-flag, so they could chat in chat rooms without racking up the hourly dollars that would have been prohibitive, and it's from those chats that I learned most of what I knew when my book finally hit shelves.

There were a number of authors whose posts were incredibly helpful to me. Raymond E. Feist wrote pages and pages about various aspects of distribution, but he wasn't the only one. For discussions about writing itself, Alis Rasmussen's group was a literary salon, and there was fun and frivolity in Teresa Edgerton's topic (and if anyone knows where she is, email me; I've totally lost track of her and would love to touch base). The writing community, at least to a newbie, was helpful and friendly, and if much of the time was spent discussing things like feminism, politics, house-buying, an equal amount of time was writing and publishing.

Okay, thank you for bearing with me. I'm getting to the LJ relevant part about now.

LJ in interface is nothing like GEnie, and it's hard to have an ongoing conversation because of the way the comments work -- but it's not impossible; bits and pieces of journals are picked up and discussed by other LJ users, spawning different and equally interesting discussions. In feel, in many ways, this is as similar to GEnie in tone as anything I've seen since. The Journals function in a similar way to GEnie's author topics, because the topic owner usually set the tone.

More, though, it's the people here that remind me of that first experience. Some of them are also old GEnie users, but not all of them; there's an openness and a willingness to talk or ask questions that I really like, and it's that ambience, more than familiar faces, that makes this remind me so much of GEnie. My own topic on GEnie was sadly neglected, because I often felt I had very little to say; I loved to add to other discussions, though, and I had originally intended to do just that with the LJ account, and no more.

But the spouse thought that it might be useful to other people if I rambled a bit about the bookstore in the context of writing and publishing. I'm always happy to think out loud. It's getting me to stop that's the problem <wry g>. I try to keep in mind what I knew then, and how it differs from what I know now, and how I learned things by trial and error. I confess that I still don't think my daily life is all that interesting, so I don't post about that.

But while I start comments, I'm happy -- truly happy -- to see other people post their own experiences and thoughts and questions; I feel less like the journal is "mine" in the authorial sense of the word, and more like it's a living room, or a house, in which people are sitting around and chatting. If you're chatting to each other, it doesn't really bother me, because even then, it's often informative. If you don't post, or don't post often, that's fine too -- some people are naturally more reticent at largish gatherings.

I don't mind if I don't know you; I don't mind if you post without somehow pointing out that I don't know you. There's been no flaming, and I have no sense of cliques or groups with specific slants in anything I've read either here or on my reading list. I know that it's sometimes intimidating to enter a room in which one feels like everyone knows everyone else -- except you <g>. If you've got questions, people who can answer them will probably be happy to, if they have the time, and many of these rambles come directly -- or indirectly -- from questions that other LJ users have asked, either in one of my comment threads or on other journals.

So. Umm. Thank you.

Just wanted to say that.

Comments

( 41 comments — Leave a comment )
archer904
Aug. 27th, 2004 11:28 pm (UTC)
I went online for the first time in 1985, when I was 10, with my Commodore 64, and discovered the world of BBS's. I remember what you're talking about with GEnie. There was a sort of sense of community, and my father mourned their decline bitterly, because he thought the Internet lacked soul. On a BBS, you had an identity attached to your handle; he thought the Internet too anonymous, too "big."

The Internet and I grew up together, so I didn't see what he was talking about, at that time. To me, the 'net was a vast resource. I guess it's sort of like my attitude toward my kids: I grew up in a small town, safe enough to roam the streets at age 12. I had woods to play in. A yard big enough to play football in, and a basketball hoop over the garage door. My kids (and I) live in Seattle, in an apartment. I worry that they don't have a yard, and can't go to the park by themselves. But they're happy, and have the benefits of city living (I never went on a field trip to a museum or aquarium, my kids do that all the time). So I guess I'm mourning a loss they never had.

Anyway, I like LiveJournal because in its own way it brings back that sense of community I felt on BBS's. When I read an intelligent comment, I pull up their user info, and see who they know. It tells me a little about them. Then I read their journals a bit. People's journals are attached to their user names, so everyone feels some accountability for what they say.

Thank you for opening your living room to me. I don't say much (usually), but I read you every time you post.
msagara
Aug. 28th, 2004 08:42 pm (UTC)
Anyway, I like LiveJournal because in its own way it brings back that sense of community I felt on BBS's. When I read an intelligent comment, I pull up their user info, and see who they know. It tells me a little about them. Then I read their journals a bit. People's journals are attached to their user names, so everyone feels some accountability for what they say.

Thank you for opening your living room to me. I don't say much (usually), but I read you every time you post.


I have a habit of lurking, and I post when I either know the person or feel I have something of relevance (well, a teeny bit <wry g> in my case) to add -- but in many cases that's not often; often someone else has said it (I have a knee jerk reaction against 'me too' posts). I'm quieter on-line than off, though <g>.

oneminutemonkey
Aug. 27th, 2004 11:42 pm (UTC)
I spent several years on GEnie. It was a transitional period between my Prodigy days (themselves a sequel to my BBS days) and my first steps onto this here 'Internet' thing in college. I'd have to say I spent a good 4-5 years on GEnie, faithfully logging on via modem from whenever I happened to be, downloading messages to read at my leisure or skimming right then and there.

Great times. I hung out on the Comics Round Table, where I ended up writing fanfic with a great group of people, who've all long gone their separate ways (and only one of us made it into a living, that would be Keith). I also hung out in a number of author topics in the SF&Fantasy Round Table, where I first took my real steps into active fandom. People like Josepha Sherman, Esther Friesner, and Mercedes Lackey all made me feel right at home.

After GEnie sort of fizzled out and I wandered away, I really missed the comraderie and community. In more recent years, SFFnet managed to fill some of the void, but not much. So you can imagine how happy I am that so many great people have come to LJ, and made it so interesting. I find myself adding new people every week, or so it seems. I'm glad we're all here. :>
kyranjaye
Aug. 28th, 2004 08:40 am (UTC)
I'm an old Prodigy user, myself. Kind of wish I could have made it to GEnie, but it was my dad who was paying the bills, and he wanted Prodigy (and then switched to AOL... um, no.) so I missed all the author discussions, but learned a lot from fans. It was a very different sort of connection, and I can kind of see the similarity between that and LJ.
jbru
Aug. 28th, 2004 12:02 am (UTC)
I like your wording of the "neighborliness" of LJ. I've seen some journals, particularly some communities, get a vicious as usenet, but one can, quite easily avoid such things. I turned anonymous posting to the "screen" option after having someone post a commercial message in a comment to my journal; it felt like changing from an open party to one where new folks are briefly vetted by a discrete doorman.

I find the lack of conversational elements on LJ semi-frustrating. There could, for example, be a lively conversation that starts up with the response to someone else's comments to your entry. I'll never hear of it directly. I've meandered on this enough to dream up some kind of apa-ware interface that would more closely replicate the paper apas that I'm used to. Programming such a thing is beyond me for now, though.
folkmew
Aug. 28th, 2004 04:06 am (UTC)
I agree - it isn't the same as GEnie. I was surprised and delighted to find out someone had created a topic for me on GEnie and was lured into becomming a member. So I did my best to make the topic interesting and it was quite active. I do the same thing somewhat in my journal but it doesn't work the same. Maybe that's because of the "journal" nature of LJ - maybe because I do post more of the "what's going on with me" type posts - which, to be fair, I enjoy reading for all my many scattered friends that are here - maybe that's why it doesn't tend to get into really long interesting conversations? I don't know. I just know that the silliest things can spark long discussions - sure, once a post where I questioned why people were drawn to polyamoury or monogamy got a lot of response but then so did the one where I worried that I was turning into June CLeaver because I was so enamoured of my new Washer and Dryer. I guess some things are universal! Hee.

Nevertheless - it is nice to see people who are close friends I seldom see and people who aren't really close friends yet but whose company I always enjoy, like yourself. And in its own little way I think LJ is one more step to a genuine electronic worldwide small town. (Ok - um - neighborhoods in a really big city?? :)
(no subject) - jbru - Aug. 28th, 2004 07:47 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - folkmew - Aug. 28th, 2004 11:41 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - folkmew - Aug. 28th, 2004 04:10 am (UTC) - Expand
(Deleted comment)
(no subject) - zhaneel69 - Aug. 29th, 2004 03:45 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - lnhammer - Aug. 28th, 2004 08:42 am (UTC) - Expand
trektone
Aug. 28th, 2004 01:02 am (UTC)
I liked GEnie a lot, too. The RT's were fun. Had my "own" topic, which was chatty enough.

Fast-forwarding to when personal websites started springing up, I thought blogs were fascinating, especially those that allowed commentary. Then the blog communities happened and I admit I intentionally stayed away for a while, content to update my own web-page of "latest news, etc." until I found I wasn't updating all that often.

So I jumped into lj with the nudging of various folks who know who they are. Glad I did. The best part is being able to read posts from work. Hee!
msagara
Aug. 28th, 2004 08:36 pm (UTC)
So I jumped into lj with the nudging of various folks who know who they are. Glad I did. The best part is being able to read posts from work. Hee!

You couldn't read blogs from work?
(no subject) - trektone - Aug. 28th, 2004 09:13 pm (UTC) - Expand
sartorias
Aug. 28th, 2004 07:16 am (UTC)
Yeah, I miss Genie, though the e-mail feature was hell on wheels (you had to read all the spam).

I too wish the LJ designers would figure a way for one to follow threads. When I get really busy I can't remember where the one was that I wanted to follow, and I end up spending time fruitlessly scrolling around searching (aided, NOT, by a very slow dial up) and getting mad when my timer goes off and I didn't get anywhere.
sleigh
Aug. 28th, 2004 08:24 am (UTC)
I'm another former GEnie user, and often think of it nostalgically. I too remember those wonderful, LONG Ray Feist posts which were so full of fantastic information for newer writers. Most of the early WILD CARDS novels were hashed out there in one large group conversation between myself, George, Melinda, Walter Jon, Roger, Vic, John, and all the others. I tried a few other places after GEnie faded away, but none had the same feel, the same sense that this was a 'conversation.'

And thanks to minnehaha-K, I wandered here to LJ, and found that this was the closest model I'd yet seen to GEnie. Not the same, but the sense of community was here. I've seen some flaming here, but nothing awful, and so I've managed to keep my own topic public also.

The one ability that missing here -- as people have noted above -- is being able to easily bookmark an interesting thread of replies. Because the postings get harder and harder to easily find as they get older, the 'conversations' here tend to be more the 'room party' variety: they start, they get interesting, but then people wander away and the conversation just fades off.

But overall, I'm very comfortable here so far. And I'm glad you're posting your musings on the industry -- very interesting!
msagara
Aug. 28th, 2004 08:29 pm (UTC)
the 'conversations' here tend to be more the 'room party' variety: they start, they get interesting, but then people wander away and the conversation just fades off.

I'm wondering if there's some other way of addressing this, but I'm not sure -- if the discussion is interesting to you, or you want to keep it going, you could post the bits and pieces that you think will have been missed, or are in want of further examination, maybe. I think the standard blog format is easier for comments, but not as easy to group in one place. Otoh, I suppose that's why blogs build their own communities.

But overall, I'm very comfortable here so far. And I'm glad you're posting your musings on the industry -- very interesting!

I've been having fun writing them -- which is why they're not perhaps highly polished or well-titled <g>.
(no subject) - heinous_bitca - Aug. 29th, 2004 06:15 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - sleigh - Aug. 29th, 2004 06:53 pm (UTC) - Expand
loupnoir
Aug. 28th, 2004 08:48 am (UTC)
I remember Compu$serv, but never discovered GEnie back when. I used to love all the newsgroups back when the people who posted on them were trying to follow the supposed purpose of the things. Last time I peeked into newsgroups, I ran away. Mostly flaming and hate. Pass.

I love LJ. Probably too much. There are trolls, but most people are incredibly polite and very, very helpful. The fandom I was active in got me into LJ, but the individuals are what keep me here. Since branching out of the fandom stuff and discovering all these lovely author journals, I've learned so much, not just about the writing itself, but the living with writing. It's been invaluable.

If you've got a Really Good Idea for LJ, you ought to send an email to the developers. They appear to be a good bunch.
msagara
Aug. 28th, 2004 08:25 pm (UTC)
If you've got a Really Good Idea for LJ, you ought to send an email to the developers. They appear to be a good bunch.

I did try to suggest this one; apparently it requires a lot more bandwidth to be able to sort the comments by a first in last out order, and some people hate the non-threaded idea.
domynoe
Aug. 28th, 2004 09:07 am (UTC)
Thank you for sharing and teaching and opening your place to us. I've been learning a lot and I really appreciate it. :)
dendrophilous
Aug. 28th, 2004 09:41 am (UTC)
LJ is growing on me, but I still like Usenet better because the messages are organized by subject rather than by journal's owner, and I can find interesting threads again easily. The discussion (I'm thinking specifically of rasfc here) often seems to go into greater depth because of that.

I do like that I can read LJ from anywhere and that it gives me a place to post random "OT" stuff.

A couple ways to find older threads that maybe people will find helpful: There is now a "recent comments" page (http://www.livejournal.com/tools/recent_comments.bml) which gives you both lists of comments your journal received and ones you posted. I find it helpful to follow up on things I commented on. I wonder how easy it would be for them to add a "last updated on" to that feature.

It should also be simple to add a category of Memories and add interesting posts to it. Would still have to check each post.

And of course those add two more pages to check everyday.
msagara
Aug. 28th, 2004 08:43 pm (UTC)
Thank you for posting this! I can see that it could be really useful, especially on the run. I'm trying to decide whether to take the ibook to Boston or not...
(Deleted comment)
avt_tor
Aug. 28th, 2004 09:22 pm (UTC)
When I got on Compuserve, I used the Navigator program to minimize connect time, and then I got a free-ish account. It is my recollection that they gave authors free time of the Sci-Fi Forum, though I would not have known details.

I recall in 1997 that Tom Veal tried to use a new credit card to pay for his Genie account, it rejected his card because it had an expiry date in the year 2000. His comment was that he supposed they didn't expect to be around by then.

I never used Genie; when I saw people using it, the interface looked kludgy. I did meet some great friends through Compuserve; I have also met some great people who used to use Genie. I got internet accounts in 1994 (from io.com and io.org, which confused people), and didn't look back.
(Deleted comment)
msagara
Aug. 30th, 2004 09:25 pm (UTC)
(You and I finally met at the 2002 WFC. Thanks again for the time you spent visiting with me.)

Hi! Now I know who you are <g>. One thing about GEnie that most people chose to do (if they had a choice; I don't remember) was to use handles that approximated their name in some way or other. I find it a bit hard sometimes figuring out who's who <wry g>.
(Deleted comment)
(no subject) - lnhammer - Aug. 31st, 2004 01:03 pm (UTC) - Expand
(Deleted comment)
(no subject) - lnhammer - Sep. 1st, 2004 12:36 pm (UTC) - Expand
(Deleted comment)
rowyn
Aug. 30th, 2004 05:30 pm (UTC)
You're welcome. :>

One of several reasons that I like LJ better than the various forums and BBSes that I've frequented is that LJ is more author-oriented than topic-oriented. I have more faith in the quality of a person than in the quality of a topic. Which is to say: a topic that was interesting to me once won't necessarily be interesting to me again, when discussed by different people. But a person who writes something that interests me once is far more likely to do it again, in my experience.

I like being able to write at my own pace, and read the writings of others' at their own pace, without the feeling that our comments are "drowned out" by the more verbose and frequent posters.

It's a good framework. :)
qiihoskeh
Aug. 31st, 2004 12:13 am (UTC)
msagara, How can you write so coherently off the top of your head? My comment is going to be a real ramble.

I didn't go online until 1999 (despite programming computers since 1980) so I missed GEnie and all that. My pre-lj experience has mainly been eGroups (now Yahoo), which tends to have flaming and porn-takeovers, and LISTSERV, also flame territory. LJ is much much better, even if it isn't really working out for me. I'm probably going to have to delete my complete friends list for example. I don't think you'll mind.

BTW I've read "What She Won't Remember" (just checked to make sure. I assume there aren't 2 Michelle Sagaras writing SF) -- even paid for the book --, so I guess I'm entitled to one comment like this in your journal.
msagara
Aug. 31st, 2004 08:36 am (UTC)
BTW I've read "What She Won't Remember" (just checked to make sure. I assume there aren't 2 Michelle Sagaras writing SF) -- even paid for the book --, so I guess I'm entitled to one comment like this in your journal.

That would be one of my early stories, yes <g>. As I said in a different comment thread, I don't expect everyone reading -- or commenting -- to have read my work. Commenting on -- or asking questions about -- what's on the LJ is fine. I'm not posting my fiction, but rather, my various takes on elements of publishing, or e-life, which I hope have wider applications than Just My Work <g>.
(no subject) - qiihoskeh - Aug. 31st, 2004 05:50 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - msagara - Aug. 31st, 2004 07:33 pm (UTC) - Expand
(Anonymous)
Sep. 9th, 2004 08:07 pm (UTC)
The spirit of GEnie
GEnie had a sense of place. I was a member from 1989 till about a year before it died The True Death. I said foolish things, I was witty, I gossiped, and I commiserated. Ghod, I miss those days. Sure, the RTs were cludgy by today's standards. However, I think it was the slowness that allowed enough breathing room for real conversations to happen. IMs and group chats are too fast and chaotic.

I echo our host's feeling about LJ. I think it's becoming someplace. It has a certain leisurely neighborliness. As with GEnie, friends I trust have been leaning on me to join. This thread may make it happen sooner.

Yog Sysop is still the best wrangler's handle, ever.

Sacred Salmon of Correction, anyone?

And a Kzinti grin for old time's sake: ^VvvV^



Mark Wise
a.k.a. Devlin
who is just SOGGY with nostalgia
vandegraaf@earthlink.net
msagara
Sep. 9th, 2004 09:15 pm (UTC)
Re: The spirit of GEnie
I've had a number of people look at me as if I'm crazy for being on LJ <wry g>. I think they expect that the cliche about LJ -- the angst and the bits and pieces of personal life -- define it.

On GEnie, I never felt the great urge to write about my personal life, because it's boring <g>. Other people have far more interesting lives.

But on LJ, I write pretty much what I want to. And the Salmon of Correction? Hee <g>.

Yog Sysop is the best handle, ever -- and he was great. Even if people can't get you to start your own topic (for want of a better word), stop by, feel free to post whatever you'd like.
( 41 comments — Leave a comment )