I began posting to Usenet in 1985 on various newsgroups, but especially in rec.juggling. Almost from the beginning I signed off as =Eric. (The form used to signify an author's name in The Enigma, a magazine I've printed for about twenty of its one hundred-twenty very odd years.)
Usenet and the early listserves, then Yahoo groups, and now Tribe and MySpace (and Facebook, and Google+), have always struck me as performance spaces, where one might strut and preen, share knowledge, spread rumor, enchant children, seduce friends, and tell lies. Just like real life.
It helps to have been a clown, an entertainer, a teacher, and I've been all of those things.
What always surprises me is how many 'net participants don't seem to realize that it is simply a beautiful and boundless playground, where we have the great good fortune to be the children.
Our tools and game pieces are words and ideas and images. We get to wear any costume we can imagine, and to make up all the rules we can enforce (which limits us entirely to rules about our own behavior). And the object of it all is not to score or to win, but to have fun and make it fun for others, too. Just like real life.
That is what it's all about, isn't it?