I'm the other mother - or Momma Deb. Our family is pretty much like every other family in suburbia. The girls go to school, one mom is on the PTA boards of elementary and middle school. The other mom goes to work, paints, writes, and tries to just have a good time raising kids with her partner. This is my third attempt at blogging...

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Sappho: Back When the Internet Was Young

Way back "when," I worked at UCSB in the 80's, the Internet was young and wild. For most people, it didn't even exist. I mean, it certainly didn't become a successful commercial entity until the mid-90's, as an extension of ArpaNet.

I was in the Electrical Engineering Dept., building digital laboratories for engineering students. I brought in a few HP mini's of the day, and in the mid to late 80's it was these kinds of tasks that got me interested in UUNET. There weren't well-defined email protocols out there yet, and my email was sent via UUCP to cooperating computers. At the same time I had pulled down news feeds from UUNet, which was your basic bulletin board-like way of communicating via email lists... or something like that - very public, and not at all private.

I was interested in connecting with other lesbians - something very daring for me. After all, in my twenties, I was most certainly not out at that time. Matter of fact, I was pretty damned closeted. It's a sad truth, I know. I am almost ashamed to admit it. But, facts are facts, and there you have it. So. Where was I? Oh yeah, connecting with others of like mindedness. Well, it's lost in the bowels of my memory axons, but somehow I came across an email list called, "Sappho." I think this must have been after the first version of Majordomo list software was released.

O. M. G. There must have been 500 women subscribed to that list from all over the world. At that time - what a concept! There was an incredible amount of email flying back and forth and all over the place. There was a LOT of inane email and one-liners interspersed with some real gems. It was like a hunt to find those gems in that high noise to gem ratio of an email list. In a way, it was a precursor to the blogs and comments of today. It is interesting to see those of like-mindedness seeking each other out to share and exchange. Somewhat like those email lists of old.

After being on Sappho for a few years, it got tiring that so much trivia flew around, and it seemed like there were sub-conversations going on between some 10 to 20 members. We split off into another, more private list. The premise for this list was that we all loved writing and were interested in sharing our writing and ideas with one another. That focus never was very keen. Eventually, there was a rift among some list members, and again we had a split.

This list has (about) 12 women on it now. We have been "together" from the beginning - I'd say about 1988, or so. None of us has met all the members of the list. Some of us have met only one or two members. I think I have met all but two of our list members. We span the continent from Vermont to Texas to Wisconsin and out to California, and more. We have grown close over the years, surviving cancer, partner deaths, new partners, child births, job loss - everything life can throw at us over twenty years.

It's a lot like having a coffee circle of friends. A resource that we each hold very close to our hearts.

I thought to share this with you as a way of commemorating the longevity of such bonds. They seem tenuous, but they are really strong.

It is somewhat like the fibrous bonds that bloggers share. I know bloggers that have met and felt very close to their new friends. It is a lot like that.

Our world is indeed getting smaller. Our world can be our community.