3 The Making of an Underclass: AOL

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posters answer without reading to the end of the thread to find out that their point has already been made. This is especially a problem with the widespread use of offline readers.

Second, it's easy to lose perspective on the Net. The embedded sorting of the Net into topics is an efficient way to sort computerized discussions. But a consequence of that structure is that people tend to focus only on topics that interest them, and because those topics fill their computer screens they tend to imagine that those topics are the most important ones, not only on the Net, but possibly in the world. This kind of intensity is vital in some professions (including writing, researching, and programming, some of the earliest classes of Net user). But it leads to skewed fantasies in which people whose interests are different from yours cease to exist or may be discounted: out of sight, out of mind. Any group that thinks it runs cyberspace must remember that the real in-group with the real power are the bastard operators from hell (BOFHs).[14] And they don't let any of us read their newsgroups.


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