3 responses to “Annals of Journalism: Paper-Based Forums in 1986”

  1. vanbeast

    awesome story :)

  2. autodidactic

    wow, i like it when you write about this sort of thing

    Damn! Even before BBSes!

    Tell me allllll about the old, bad days Unkie Substitute…. :)

  3. fengi

    This is not a warning.

    I used to have a collection of my favorite bits from the Reader’s free message classifieds. I think it was called “Personals” at some point because the Reader called their personal ads “Matches”.

    The psuedonyms and memes in that column were something I followed in the same manner we trace such things today, except very very slowly.

    My favorite were the ones from “Guy Who Loved Too Much” who wrote bitter little sentences of classic Nice Guy resentment at the girl who dumped him for several months before peope started parodying him with “Guy Who Lunched Too Much” and “Guy Who Lurched Too Much”. Since the pace was weekly, in print and disposable, I suppose any unintiated reading the section years in would find an utterly arcane world of layered in-jokes, interspersed with prayers and thanks to St. Jude. These days, people would grasp it immediately.

    To me the Craigslist Rants and Raves page is essentially that section on crank. If only Craigslist would impose a word limit on RnR you might get the poetic weirdness of the old form.

    Given the modern tendency to fetishize such things (see Found magazine) I’m surprised no one has made book out of the old Readers ads. Just page after page of those little exchanges, slowly evolving and collapsing.

    (My subject line was the favorite phrase of a personals regular).

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