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Design for Community: The Art of Connecting Real People in Virtual Places by Derek M. Powazek

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Chapter 7Chat, Cams, and Virtual Intimacy…Seeing Computers as Intimacy Devices

Intimacy is one of the fundamental building blocks of any community, online or off. It’s the spark of life that changes a primordial soup of HTML and CGI scripts into a living, breathing community.

Intimacy is the reason I’m writing this book. When I was in college at UC Santa Cruz in the early nineties, I got my first command line window into the Internet. Back then we had something called fnet (short for forum network) that connected Santa Cruz students into a citywide chat. It was my first experience with real-time chat, and it left a lasting impression.

It was one sleepless night in fnet that I met Mac. He seemed like just another student at first. As the hours ...

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