Identity: Bulletin Board System

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Bulletin Board System

The circuit of culture is a tool to analyze if a text or artifact is an object of culture. The five major components of the circuit of culture in this book include representation, identity, production, consumption, and regulation. What the circuit of culture identifies includes how the object is represented, how it is identified, its production and consumption, and the regulation of use and distribution. All of these components help to see how culture influences society via different objectives. 

BBSs were heavily used running platforms that existed before the creation of the internet. BBSs were dedicated to sharing messages, sharing ideas, and creating communities for people with similar hobbies. Since the birth of the internet, it has been very difficult to recollect all lost servers, so only so many are left up and running. Many BBSs have been left on what we can call “cliffhangers” because many consumers stopped using them over time as other technologies  (such as the internet) were popularized. What is able to be found from the rest of accessible BBSs today unfortunately does not tell us the exact history of them, so it can often be difficult to know all content within them. However, what we do know is that BBSs paved the path for the internet we know today. Stated by Kevin Driscoll in The Modem World: A Prehistory of Social Media,  “To most people, the Internet seems to have sprung fully formed on the world some time after 1990.” As Kevin Driscoll said, the internet did not just appear out of thin air, but it stemmed from its precursor: BBSs.

Identity relates to who created the topic, who is associated with it, who consumes it, as well as what needs to be understood to utilize it. In the BBS that I chose, the topic that was covered was online gaming and the community that arose from it. The producers of this BBS would include people that want to create an online community for people around the world from the comfort of their own homes. The consumers of this BBS, specifically The Keep, include people who enjoy participating in role-playing games (RPGs), games in which their digital character doesn’t have to be an exact replication of their real life status. Not only this, but these consumers are also searching for a community where they can connect with others based on shared hobbies. As a result of a growing community based on this BBS, it is no secret that the consumers themselves regulate the identity of said BBS. Those who are not interested in such activities would not be involved in this bulletin board system because they would serve no purpose to the identity of it. 

Delving further into the consumers of The Keep, most of the primary of the consumers were not only people who enjoyed participating in online games but those who wished to connect with others based on their personalities instead of their physical appearances and limitations. Especially in an online community, people could enjoy themselves in a judgment free zone, away from those who either deemed them unwanted by societal terms based on their hobbies or appearances. In this sense, this BBS has created an in-group of similar minded people away from those who could possibly indulge in judgment. Overall, The Keep has provided a safe and healthy community within the BBS world. 

Although we don’t know too much about BBSs, we can contribute a lot of factors we see in technology, specifically the internet, to them. Because BBSs were the first set of online forums on computers across the world, we can be grateful to them for having helped our internet be as complex as it is today. 

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