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Then, in 1996, America Online opened the floodgates by introducing a monthly flat rate instead of charging by the hour.For $19.95 a month, users could now linger in chat rooms for as long as they wanted.

And, despite our memories of the slow-dialing modems of the ’90s, connecting to the World Wide Web was faster than ever at the time.Gchat) are popular, but chat rooms as they existed in the 1990s are mostly a relic. “Now people on Facebook will start a thread on someone’s Timeline and really start interacting with one another.It’s a different visual format, it’s organized differently, but its really the same concept we had around the chat room.” Yes, that’s true, but to me the experience just different.That’s what Parker was getting at when he talked about the “spontaneity to the Internet” during the Airtime launch.In the ’90s, I constantly interacted with people known to me only by their screen names; today, I only interact that way in comments sections and on Twitter, and only occasionally. I’m nostalgic for AOL chat rooms, but would I use them if the company brought them back? But that doesn’t mean some entrepreneur out there isn’t working on something that captures the same spirit, albeit without the same hegemony AOL enjoyed.Apparently people don’t feel constrained by interacting with the people they know — they feel comforted by it.

But what, exactly, happen to the chat rooms Parker so fondly remembers?

Massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs) like made gaming in chat rooms seem antiquated.

There were, in short, a lot more options for people who wanted to interact online.

All of your interactions online are constrained by the people you already know.” (MORE: Chatroulette 2.0?

Napster Founders Launch Airtime Video Chat) So far, Airtime hasn’t exactly been a hit.

“In the ‘80s, if you had a 2400 baud modem you were pretty hot stuff,” says Schober. People talk about their cellphones being slow now; a slow cellphone might be 256k or 512k, so if you think about something being 100 times slower than that, it’s ridiculous.