When AIM Was Our Facebook

Adrian Covert and Sam Biddle make a great case at Gizmodo that AOL Instant Messenger served as a Facebook-like social network for those of a particular age. "There was a stretch of time in the '90s and early '00s when AOL was a social requisite," they write. "This was short lived, of course, but the AOL name remained powerful, and the screennames we accumulated from it stuck with us. AOL was a bloated horror creature of the Internet -- but AIM was graceful, and because of the former's monopoly on the web, the seed was planted widely. Everyone had an AIM handle."

I, too, was part of the AIM generation.  AIM didn't feel like "the Internet," which smelled nerdy even to those of us who loved it. Because everyone was on AIM, it couldn't be stigmatized or othered, even if you accessed it through the Internet and it was clearly a direction where the whole, not-quite-social Internet was heading.

"And when we all finally got broadband, it was always on. Your friends were always right there on your buddy list, around the clock," Covert and Biddle say. "This was the first time that it felt like we had presences online -- that our friends were out there in some sense, and easily accessible."

Without trying to, we'd slipped into the always-on world and many of us have never and will never emerge from it.

Presented by

Google Street View, Transformed Into a Tiny Planet

A 360-degree tour of our world, made entirely from Google's panoramas

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Google Street View, Transformed Into a Tiny Planet

A 360-degree tour of our world, made entirely from Google's panoramas

Video

The 86-Year-Old Farmer Who Won't Quit

A filmmaker returns to his hometown to profile the patriarch of a family farm

Video

Riding Unicycles in a Cave

"If you fall down and break your leg, there's no way out."

Video

Carrot: A Pitch-Perfect Satire of Tech

"It's not just a vegetable. It's what a vegetable should be."

Video

The Benefits of Living Alone on a Mountain

"You really have to love solitary time by yourself."

More in Technology

Just In