I thought I would include this article for those of you who need a short summary
of dream sharing online. This is a reprint of an topic I brought up on the
Cybermind discussion list.
CYBERMIND@LISTSERV.AOL.COMWed Aug6 09:34:12 1997
Date:Tue, 5 Aug 1997 23:50:27 -0400
From:AOL User <RCWilk@AOL.COM>
Subject: Cyberdreams - History Notes
Cyber-dream - History Notes
Dreams form a valuable group of objects in our culture in that, among other
things, resist commodification. They are free, and its hard to sell them, or
even get attention for them. It is no wonder the capital cultures attempt to
teach us through mother's voice that "it's just a dream".We are taught
to be bored and disinterested in other's dreams and see them as narcissistic
indulgences and random neural foam.
Now that the grassroots dreamwork movement that has been growing since the
sixties is online, there is an unique opportunity to watch and participate in
how this unfolds in cyberspace.
When I first came online most of the dream sharing was done via email and
occasional IRC. I tried to track down dream sharing in MUDs and MOOs, but it has
proven to be too spontaneous. Someone will mention a dream they had, others may
join in. If you have records of this, send me a reference.
All of the dream sharing at that time was non-clinical, grassroots insight and
peer relationship oriented. The quality varied widely. Many groups achieved very
imaginal, though time limited, insight groups. Sometimes it was just spew of
folklore and pseudo-psychology.
The first really unique cyber-dream groups were developed by John Herbert as
offshoots of his work in prisons and on BBSs. John migrated from the WELL to AOL
when Seniornet offered him free bulletin board space to conduct his research.
They really had him buried there, and it took me months to find him even after I
heard he was doing dreamwork online.
John's study compared offline and online groups, revealing that while
face-to-face groups, as he calls them, offer a more emotional experience, the
online groups were self-rated as higher in insight by the dreamer presenting the
dream. If you are interested in his work, see:
Herbert, J.W.(1991).Human Science Research Methods in Studying Dreamwork:
Qualitative and Quantitative Analysis of Face-to-Face and Computer Dream Work
Groups" Unpublished Manuscript, Saybrook Institute, San Francisco,
About the same time the Usenet newsgroup alt.dreams emerged, originally
suggested by Jack Campin as a way to study contemporary culture. He wanted a
snapshot of dreams in the late 20th Century much in the same way that _The Third
Reich of Dreams_gives a snapshot of the society in Nazi Germany. But it was soon
apparent that the real appeal of alt.dreams was to share dreams and discussions
about their significance and meaning.Now alt.dream.lucid and
alt.dreams.castaneda have split off to form their own discussion areas. Still,
there was continual disappointment around the dream sharing.
The original Electric Dreams community formed out of a response to the
shallowness of these discussions. Using the unique Net abilities to send mail
around cheaply, a group of 60 or so dreamers formed an e-zine of dreams and
comments on dreams that they distributed bi-monthly. Eventually we began
experimenting with Herbert's techniques via email, forming short lived but
intensely focused groups. Unlike other mail lists that grow and shrink according
to their own pattern, the Electric Dreams groups automatically unsubscrib*d
everyone automatically at the end of each group. The key technique seem to be
having everyone own upfront their own psychological projections, by saying
prefacing, either literally or in an implied way "In my dream..."Or
" If this were my dream...."This reduced the group as something being
"done" to the dreamer and opened up the energy for the whole group to
About this time the Web was beginning to take off and an explosion of unique
cyber-dream sharing began, from interpretive services to free comment boards to
a wild and wide variety of non- interpretive sharing, such as dream inspired art
galleries, hyperlinked dream journals and soulful mythical education centers
arising from cultural and archetypal psychology.
In 1996 the Association for the Study of Dreams held its annual conference in
Berkeley, and this was a hard time for the Electric Dreams community. Basically
the ASD board was very wary of dream sharing online and determined to not have
any exhibitions of this at the conference. This was during that paranoid time
when the only reports to the general public on the Net seemed to be about child
abuse and pornography. (The planning for the conference was all in
1994-1995).The board was very generous about dreams and computers in other ways
and gave us room enough for the week to set up a half dozen computers, have
demos, clinics, seminars, and discussion panels. Just no dream sharing. That was
taboo. I'm still struggling with policies of linkage with the online web site.
The issue of free speech in Cyberspace then began to take prominence. As you
can guess, some dreams and dream sharing can dip very quickly into - well, odd
and adult topics. This has forced us to remind people who sign up for groups
that they *are*, at this time, meant for adults. There is no reason they
couldn't be handled appropriately with children, but no one to my knowledge has
yet attempted to run such a group.
For the text of a sample group,
Once dreams have been liberated from the couch and brought out into the
culture at large, a wonderful group of events seem to occur, at least within the
group. New ways of entertaining dream images that are not tied to medical models
begin to unfold in a wide variety of directions.
And that's the question I like to keep putting out - what are ways to
approach dream images on the Net that provide meaning and value? Poetically
speaking, what does the dream image itself call for that can happen only in
current electric currents?