The Internet is touted as a place where people of diverse types and scattered localities can come together to work, play, and socialize in the spirit of the common good, congregating in all manner of self-organizing groups often known as "virtual communities". As many Net gurus will tell you, e-mail lists present an excellent environment for the construction of such experimental communities: distribution is handled automatically, list subscription can be strictly controlled (if desired), and the asynchronous nature of the medium enables subscribers to participate at their own pace, in their own unique way.
To many people (including myself), this sort of structure represents total creative freedom, and perhaps the best environment yet designed for shared human labor and social expression. In 1993, I was a key participant in one of these working environments - a progressive hothouse of furious metaphysical speculation called firstname.lastname@example.org - where I learned that such freedom is not without its cost.
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