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Any Hot Chicks Here?

Some of the oldest and biggest companies to realize intimate virtual communities used one simple tool: real-time chat. AOL (America Online) has become one of the most powerful companies on the Net with a simple formula of email, instant messaging, and chat. I’m convinced that AOL owes its riches to the endless scrolling lines of banter in its chat rooms.

Chat is at once the most powerful and most hated community tool available. It’s hard not to write it off after taking a cursory pass through any web-based chat room. The comments whiz by like you’re eavesdropping on a giant, fractured party line. People come in and out constantly, and each one seems to want to know everyone’s “ASL” (age, sex, location). In researching chat rooms for this book, I got so tired of being asked to identify my age, gender, and location, I started making things up. “I’m a multi-gendered alien from the planet Zog where everyone is born at 35 and ages backwards, so I’m either 13 or 22, depending on how you count.”


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