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Monday, 12 August 2013

The pre-history of virtual communities

I was thrilled to see this guest post on the Kinsey Institute blog by Samantha Allen,  Plugged In: Sexual Fetish Communities 1970s to the present since it provides further evidence for something of which I have been aware, the existence of 'virtual communities' not necessarily mediated by face to face contact, going back well before the widespread use of the internet.

While as Allen makes clear it might take a certain amount of effort and know-how to obtain the niche publications she describes, they did exist and provided a point of contact between individuals with common interests.

Similar phenomena can be seen in a range of different areas, whether around limited circulation newsletters, somewhat more conventional periodical publications (the shortlived but influential radical feminist journal The Freewoman forms a prime example), or even correspondence clubs, such as the Cooperative Correspondence Club. The problem is, of course, that except in the case of journals such as The Freewoman, where copies survive in public repositories and the researcher can see the vibrant interchanges that took place via letters to the editor, archives of these kinds of material very seldom survive. Samantha Allen was fortunate that the Kinsey Institute had made a conscious effort to acquire the materials she worked with, while when I interviewed Rose Hacker on an entirely different matter and discovered that she still had the records of the CCC, I strongly advised her to contact a suitable repository (I think I may have mentioned what was then the Fawcett Library) to ensure that this valuable set of documents was preserved and accessible to future generations.

Although communications through these networks moved at a more leisurely pace, nonetheless, by these means, virtual communities were created.
Plugged In: Sexual Fetish Communities 1970s to the Present - See more at: http://kinseyconfidential.org/sexual-fetish-communities-internet/#sthash.YqoqRrP9.dpuf
Plugged In: Sexual Fetish Communities 1970s to the Present - See more at: http://kinseyconfidential.org/sexual-fetish-communities-internet/#sthash.YqoqRrP9.dpuf
Plugged In: Sexual Fetish Communities 1970s to the Present - See more at: http://kinseyconfidential.org/sexual-fetish-communities-internet/#sthash.YqoqRrP9.dpuf
Plugged In: Sexual Fetish Communities 1970s to the Present - See more at: http://kinseyconfidential.org/sexual-fetish-communities-internet/#sthash.YqoqRrP9.dpuf

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