PLATO was a fascinating, pioneering online learning system developed at the University of Illinois.
Alongside course materials, it originated complex multiplayer online games, chat, & collaboration tools, rendered on 512x512 touchscreen plasma displays--in the 1970s.
Brian Dear's "The Friendly Orange Glow" is the (thus far) definitive history of the system, based on decades of research. It took me a while to make my way through the 640 page tome, but here's my review:
I appreciate your covering the exchange between the author and Joy Lisi Rankin. I was looking at some of the things the fediverse's own @nasser had done and stumbled across Rankin's talk that so upset the author (it was the 1st of the session, I never got around to watching rest, my apologies to Ramsey Nasser!).
I think it's worth a watch
I'd seen PLATO mentioned in histories of online communities before (probably in Howard Rheingold's book) but those all seemed like technohagiographies of fusty old systems long gone whose users had all moved on. I was never really so interested in learning more about it until seeing Rankin's talk.
I should know better by now than to be surprised that a talk like that could draw such an awful, professionally costly negative response. I had no idea until your review that it had.
I have the "People's History" book here as well, and it repeats some of those same assertions (happy to elaborate but not at toot length limits :).
But I certainly agree that Dear's aggressive response crossed several lines, which far overshadowed the substance of his arguments, such as it is.
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