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    Yeah you do have to have access to a talk server in order to be reachable, be it a talk server on your local machine or a talk server on a remote shell account.

    I learned about talk in the 90s when some rando sent my shell account a talk request. We both had shell accounts with the same ISP, and he found me by looking at output from the who command. We talked about absolutely nothing for more than half an hour. It was pretty cool.

    Later, I used it to chat with my girlfriend who was a student employee of a CS department. She used the university’s Unix box, and I used my Linux machine with a dialup modem. I usually had to initiate conversation, because she had a fixed IP with a hostname in DNS, and I didn’t.

    In some ways talk was a lot more frictionless than IRC. We didn’t have to pick a server, or nicknames, or futz with client configs. talk girlfriend@cs.wherever.edu and we were good to go. All you needed to be reachable was a username on a host with a talk server.

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      I learned about talk in the 90s when some rando sent my shell account a talk request.

      I used to be that kind of rando, when I first got on the Internet in 1995 as a teenager. I think I used finger to find people though, including people on at least one other ISP that had shell accounts and a finger server.

      Why wasn’t I using Netscape and looking at cool graphics like my peers (well, those that were already online at that point)? For one, I was using my mother’s 2400 baud modem. Also, I’m visually impaired, so I didn’t find graphics that appealing and liked my 80x25 text console just fine. So through mere circumstance I started out as an “old Internet” person.

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        I had a similar experience, but I used a Braille ’n Speak hooked up to a 2400 baud modem.

        I never really went looking for randos to chat with. I tended to play MUDs or read Usenet (typically alt.sex.stories, alt.startrek.creative, and rec.drugs.cannabis). I lost some free shell access when my friend’s fundamentalist parents found some usenet articles that I had saved in the file storage space that came with the shell account. I loved surfing Gopher too.

        This would have been late 1993 to 1996 or so. I really do miss that world.

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          Oh hi, didn’t realize I was replying to a blind person. Small world.

          I also got into MUDs, or actually MOOs, in a big way, from late 1995 to about 1999. I was a wizard on a few MOOs. By 1998, I knew I was out of step with the mainstream Internet, but I guess I didn’t really care. And it was through a MOO that I happened to meet a blind person online for the first time, which is what got me interested in working on assistive technology.

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      Yeah but talk is still acting as a sort of “temporary” server on your machine isn’t it? 😀 At the end of the day I don’t find “servers” to be a big deal really, its the centralization that’s problematic.

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        Back when talk was made there really wasn’t a notion of “server”. Every machine on the Internet was just a “host”.

        The talk daemon didn’t even have to run all the time. Instead, inetd would listen to all the ports it was configured for. When a connection arrived, inetd would fork and exec the desired program. So inetd would run talkd as needed then talkd would just exit.

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          Yeah but my point is, it’s still a “server” isn’t it? Even inetd is daemon that spins up “servers” on demand. You can’t really get away from being “server”(less) (as the now current hype goes)

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            I sidetracked myself by nostalgizing. My main point wasn’t to pretend there was no such thing as a server. I mostly meant to talk about the difference between host-to-host networking where everyone is a peer (literally equal in the eyes of the network) versus the highly centralized world today.

            I’m a graybeard now so I’m obligated to talk about the past. But I do think we lost something in the last 20-odd years. Between the architecture of ISP networks where NAT and DHCP mean that home machines don’t get to be full peers, and the architecture of large web sites, a lot of the original egalitarianism of the ’net is just gone.

            (BTW, I agree with the bit about ‘serverless’. It’s a terrible term. I use it because I’m stuck with it.)

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              Ahh yes I see. Am I old enough to be considered a “greybeard” too if I’m quite familiar with and have used teh same things talk, who, mesg and hell I still use IRC (which in my opinion was just a logical continuation of talk/msg).

              But yes, p2p and decentralization are very important aspects of the Web we need to continue to cultivate and encourage. I’m saddened mostly be the very top-heavy way the “Web” has become in the last ~20yrs or so.

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        Peer to peer and in plain text, just as the unix gods intended!

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          Also probably insecure as heck, like finger.

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          I’m reminded of the ytalk replacement that allowed multi-party communication

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            I used to run a talk sever on my workstation. This was in the early days of the Internet, my workstation had a world-accessible IP and, in the days before ICQ and AOL IM, my girlfriend-at-the-time would talk to me from the computing center at the university library straight to my workstation at work.

            It’s charmingly naive in retrospect.