Old, long since closed down Hamilton BBS. Used to be run by CraigBox in his "Criggie" days.
Here's what I had to say about Toontown a few years after it closed.
(It is only now, looking at the word "toontown" as I decide how to write it, that I realise exactly how stupid the word is, and how much of a fool I must have been nearer the time.)
Toontown was a bulletin board system (BBS) that ran between about June 1996, and that closed about July 1998. Previous to its public opening, it had been under some form of development for the past year.
A BBS, for those who dont even know what "http" spells, is a text-based system that you dial up with your modem and leave messages for other people and exchange files with the computer running it. Single user only. "Store and forward."
That's what I'm thinking. Why did I waste three years of my life - not only my life, my childhood - on something like a bulletin board? It all seemed to make sense back in 1996. I'd got into BBSing through a couple of similarly-minded friends, and instantly got hooked. A couple of great experiences down the track, I started my own BBS. It ran for two years - quite a long time by standards, and one-eighth of my life to the point.
After all that time, I had noticed my life going downhill. I didn't have time to keep the BBS up to the idiotically high standard I wanted to run it at, I didn't have time to work on the next project I had in mind. I dedicated far too long to reading and writing messages, and didn't have time for lots of more important things in my life. Something had to go, and it wasn't going to be New World. So, with much pomp and circumstance, Toontown closed on July 1. (And had a really big, really cool party on July 3.)
During the time Toontown run I met many really cool people. I'm still in touch with a large number of these. My policies on users were mostly "Accomodate good users and tell everyone else to piss off", so users were either friends or enemies. (Isn't it strange how the only two professions to refer to their customers as "users" are computers and drugs?) And there were a lot of little 13 year old people who got very pissed off with me because I don't take fools gladly.
Along with that however, went a lot of errors in my judgement. Some of the coolest people I've ever met through BBSes I thought were complete losers in their day. I was so engrossed with the technical and social side of computers at the time, that I judged people solely on their skills there, and not on their personas. After meeting these people, I was proved very wrong.
That's not to say that all users turn out better in real life - some of the people on a BBS are real, REAL geeks in real life. No names.
I thought I'd miss running a BBS. Thought I'd miss being able to chat to people, sending them messages, being able to be powerhungry and dictatorial and hang up on them whenever I wanted. Nah, it was nothing! I closed it down one night and got the best night's sleep ever. Later on I wrote it to CD, and deleted it. It was really enjoyable. And I dont even know where the CDs are at the moment. I dont care about it anymore.
When I didn't have a BBS to sit up and waste time on at night, things started getting better on the sleep front. I didn't have to think about it, or worry, or be annoyed by little geeks.
If you have a computer in your bedroom, and if it's got an internet connection, the best move you can EVER make, as I have very recently discovered, is move it out. Since I moved it I've been getting really early nights (good because I've got exams in a week as I write this) and not having it distract me when I'm working.
Perhaps. I don't know. It was something that seemed right at the time. It cost me a lot, it didn't make any money, it made me lots of friends outside it. Don't let people tell you that if you meet someone via a computer they are any less of a friend. A lot of my best friends I either met or consolidated friendships with because of computers, and they're almost completely nerdless friendships too.
I've definately found it easier to dedicate time to people without a BBS. On the telephone, I'd always be mesaging and talking. Now I'm 100% there for the person on the phone and it makes then feel better not having someone tapping away at a keyboard. Plus, it makes me feel better not having a keyboard there screaming "Tap me you son of a bitch".
Hardly a tribute, eh?
I was responsible for most of the BBS action in Hamilton when Toontown was running. I was the driving force behind a lot of very well known systems. When Toontown closed, the scene died alongside it. A shame, but I can handle the guilt.
Rest in peace.
Some of the best friends I made from Toontown have read this and bitched viciously at me. I think that what I wrote was not meant to be a touching tribute, more an example of my cynical writing that I just happened to aim at something convienient. It will therefore undergo a touching up at some stage.