The Internet really is an interesting place. I've been on the "Internet" for a long time, probably longer than I want to admit. In college, I was very much into email, IRC or Relay chats, and online games. I even became a member of, I believe, the first online fraternity, the Zets. Then around 1995 the Internet exploded with the birth of Mozilla/Netscape and the World Wide Web. I wonder if any of the newbies know what "www" really means. Surfing the web was a big thing. And like everyone else, I had my own "home page." I bet I could still find it on one of these Internet archives.
I've always thought that I dealt better with people, socially, over the Internet. I felt that I could be more relaxed and open about myself. I was a total goofball. Now that I think about it, I realize it's not as if I am a different person. I'm the same person when I'm hiding behind a computer network. The fact is, I AM more relaxed with less inhibitions, and I'm more open about myself. Unlike in real life, I don't feel like I have to "watch what I say" around people (at least, not as much). I figure, if others don't like me or what I have to say, they could always ignore me or just skip my messages. I wouldn't know or care. It's hard to do it in real life when people physically avoid me! On the Internet, I feel free to open up and talk about myself and my life and what makes me tick. If people judge me, I don't know about it and I don't need to bother with it. That's pretty liberating.
Technologies changed over time, but the basic concept of online community is still the same. First we have the bulletin boards, then slowly they turn into online forums. Then we have email, and the concept extended to SMS, etc. Websites become more sophisticated and media-rich, what with video, audio, flash animation, etc. And chat rooms are alive and blooming like never before. Online/interactive games are much more powerful and entertaining.
Then there is blogging, which really is not a new idea. Online journaling is old news, but weblogs have created an easy-to-use environment for everyone -- now you don't need to be a techie to know how to create online contents. It combines the functionality of websites with the flexibility of email. It's a powerful concept.
Who knows what the Net is going to evolve to in the next few years. My thought is that it will continue to expand these basic communication ideas with better and easier tools and richer and more entertaining contents. Personally, I can't wait.