Computer Mediated Story as
Collaborative Round Robin

The Internet was officially opened in 1969 by J.C.R. Licklider, Lawrence G. Roberts, Bob Kahn, and Douglas Englebart. By 1978 Randy Seuss and Ward Christiansen from Chicago, created the first personal-computer, bulletin-board system (BBS). This was essentially the common person's Internet until NSFnet opened the Internet's usage beyond academia and computer companies to include anyone.

For awhile whole stories were passed around on mailing lists, USENET newsgroups or BBS message areas. Eventually, Bulletin Board Systems engendered NESs (date?), Never-Ending Stories, a system of electronically managing on-line round robin storytelling. Round robin storytelling goes back at least as far as the Victorian era when it was particularly popular. Usually a group of people would agree to create a story through a chain of correspondence. Computer mediated round robins only made sense, since it speeded up the whole creation process and therefore required less patience and dedication by its participants than the Victorian version. Round robins, paper or electronic, were basically linear stories with one person adding on text to the story after another. Online the round robin evolved into branching stories called add-on adventures, one of the earliest being Add-venture. Allen S. Firstenberg created Add-venture in 1987-88 for Nyack High School BBS. It was subsequently released on the Web in 1994. Charles Deemer edited a less software driven add-on story world called Stories of Downtown Anywhere (1994) which became one of the first critically recognised on-line collaborative works.


Return to Modern Adventure