Online communities predate the World Wide Web and other aspects of the Internet. Since the early days of Usenet (USEr NETwork), developed nearly 30 years ago for university folk to communicate among themselves, lawyers have participated in online communities, both for social as well as professional reasons. And even before that, a Bulletin Board System, or BBS, enabled users to exchange messages in the ether. Because those systems required distant users to dial in on a telephone, incurring long-distance charges, participation was primarily local and, consequently, small. Pioneer users had to familiarize themselves with the likes of gopher, Veronica, Archie, Jughead, FTP, and the Unix grep command, concepts that seem as quaint today as platen, typewriter ribbon, and foolscap. Not surprisingly, most citizens of online communities were computer enthusiasts.
Read on at the Technology & Practice Guide special issue of GPSolo magazine. And yes, I wrote that article.