A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…

posted by: Amanda

Although technically I am part of the group classified as “Millennials”, I do, in fact, remember life before the Internet.  I was about 11 years old (c. 1996) when the phone line (the LAND LINE) started getting tied up in my household.

Chat rooms, ICQ and Netscape: Oh, my!

By the way, if you haven’t heard a high-pitch “uh oh” 1,000 times within a four-minute timeframe, you don’t even know what you are missing!

Today we are so used to constantly being connected.  We have everything LITERALLY at our fingertips.  However, once upon a time, this “whole thing” was new…

Before Facebook, LinkedIn and Myspace, there was SixDegrees.

Creator Andrew Weinreich based the service on the concept of “six degrees of separation”.  From 1997 to 2001, SixDegrees members could build profiles, display a list of Friends, and share and compare these lists.  Interactive dating services, virtual communities and message boards already existed and even had some of these features, but SixDegrees was the first to combine them.

In this Time Business & Money post from 2007, a former user explains part of the experience:

Time Business & Money

Here is the transcript of a live chat room/ message board conversation straight out of 1999 between Andrew Bein (SixDegrees general manager), Julie Walker (Washington Post columnist) and Internet users.  Taking place when the Internet was still in its infancy with the general public, the term “super-Rolodex” is used frequently.

Side note: What the hell is a Rolodex, right!?

Here is one example from the conversation of how Bein had to explain, almost defend, SixDegrees’ position and purpose:


Sam Plymale, editor-in-chief for PRSSA at Eastern Michigan University, did a little investigating of his own.  In this post, he discusses a little of SixDegrees’ history and says:

“Six Degrees may have been created a bit before its time.  As the site grew, the world of online advertising was in its infancy and Weinreich was unable to keep the site afloat. Spam problems and revenue issues ultimately doomed the site and it shut down in 2001.  In 2010, the site attempted a rebirth. People that had existing memberships with Six Degrees have been invited back with hopes of recreating the network.”

In his post, Plymale admitted to never having heard of SixDegrees prior to his search on social media history.  Honestly, I hadn’t either.  Unfortunately for Weinreich, Zuckerberg got to me first.

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