Better than IRL: “Finding your people on the internet of the mid-2000s.”


Having small children is an incredible experience, it can take in your whole world. Years fly by and you can be so very focused on our family and work that, unfortunately, you can lose track of a lot of friends, and your social life pretty much disappears.

When we got to put our heads above ground again in the mid-2000s, I found Tumblr (via Sussanah Breslin) and it really helped me to put my cultural self back together. Sharing work, art and ideas, meeting so many amazing people, (and I didn’t even need to go outside!) it really was an incredibly important time for me and I am very grateful to all of those who made that happen. I suppose the GDSP project was one of the many high points of that.

I left Tumblr behind when they brought in the censorship rules in because it seemed it was leaving the people who made it cool and essential behind, but I have been working hard on keeping my internet positive and fulfilling in that tradition.
It is the history of this spirit and time that Katie West, photographer, writer and publisher is documenting in her new book project “Better than IRL” currently open to pre orders on Kickstarter.

“Better Than IRL is a collection of true stories about the years when the internet first started gaining traction as a place to build connections and community. With 20 essays written by pioneers and participants from online communities, this paperback (or digital book!) looks at how this specific time on the internet changed us, and how we can take the elements that made it so much better than IRL with us into the future.”

“The book will be personal and hopeful. It won’t be nostalgic moaning about how the internet isn’t what it once was—it will discuss how it made us into who we are now and how we can take the lessons we learned about inclusion and belonging to be better people going forward. With talented authors from Canada, South Africa, Pakistan, USA, Singapore, UK, and Liberia, the book covers a wide array of experiences with the beginnings of the Web 2.0.”

Katie began a chat group on Instagram upon the launch of the Kickstarter, last week, and invited many of us who found each other then and it has really brought back many special memories and friendships.

I really hope the book gets funded, I urge you to consider backing the project, and sharing with anyone else you know who might be interested. The money doesn’t go out of you account until the project is fully funded, if that helps.

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