For some time now, I have wished someone would write an article about Washington-based bulletin board services. Unfortunately, “The Lost World” (5/16) is not what I envisioned. Yes, bulletin boards are a dying breed. In my mind, however, their relative obscurity has separated the wheat from the chaff and allowed for vibrant, local communities of dedicated users to flourish.
D.C. bulletin boards provide a service that has only recently become available on the Internet. Because they are small and available primarily to local users, BBSs create a forum for discussions of local political, environmental, and social issues, and provide a place where users can form real-life friendships. As many users will attest, a local BBS is a great way of meeting smart people in the area with similar interests and outlooks on life.
My first and best experience with D.C. boards came from a call to Crunchland, a message board whose number I found in the Washington City Paper classifieds. What a pleasant surprise to find that the board was not filled with no-life Star Trek fanatics, or, God forbid, Dave Aronsons (a former Crunchland user who was asked to stop calling because his messages consisted of little more than bad poetry, advertisements for his own BBS, and personal attacks against those who disagreed with himif this is the quality of correspondence by Mensa members, ignorance is most certainly bliss!), but with real, down-to-earth, funny people with jobs and lives very much like my own. Nowadays, when I want to talk, I don’t have to pick up the mouse and dial up Crunchland; I can pick up my telephone and call a friend, who, incidentally, I met on Crunchland.
It frustrates me no end that the media cannot get beyond the stereotypes of computer users as extremists, perverts, or geeks. What about the rest of us? Bulletin boards are so much more than places where socially inept teenagers hide behind anonymous screen names or where frustrated housewives go to talk dirty. During a time when it is increasingly difficult for nice, normal folks to find each other, BBSs provide a invaluable medium. I’m sorry your story failed to reflect that facet of online life.
via the Internet