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Monroe is being pulled into this digital vortex, too, and judging by her open-mouthed smile, she seems ready or excited for whatever awaits her on the other side. The blurb reads: Gersh: Let’s go someplace quiet honey … Geekgirl: It’s not all I need : )And so begins Australian Carol Parker’s long and torrid journey into the world of cybersex, a world that will eventually take over her marriage, her work and most of her waking life….It was published by a company called Mandarin in Melbourne in 1997.Out the front is Happy Foodland, a small grocer that sells over forty-five varieties of instant noodles (and also, grog).There is Rapid Café, a Japanese restaurant that makes udon noodle soup.Like many early chat programs, Worlds Chat is a virtual realm where embodied avatars walk around talking to one another.Carol chooses an Alice in Wonderland avatar and calls herself Alicia.As she explores this new world, she is captivated by being able to speak to people from different countries at the same time.‘It felt like I was actually inside the computer, interacting with these people,’ she writes.
Inside the arcade there is an Indian grocer, a Thai massage place, a Polynesian canteen, an African shop and an organic grocer called Greenies. The front cover depicts Marilyn Monroe sitting on the floor with one knee to her chest and the other kicking out straight up in front of her head.
I close the book, and go back on Twitter on my phone.
I click reply to my earlier tweet about sits on my dining table, unread, for the next few weeks, until I pick it up one afternoon when I have some time off. Carol is living in Melbourne with her husband, Mitch, and three children, aged four, six and fourteen. Carol works from home, developing the ‘electronic publishing’ business that Mitch set up a few years earlier. They spend a lot of time on chat groups or searching for interesting things on the nascent world wide web.
I wonder what she’s doing now, and how the book ended up on a free table outside an organic grocer in Rapid Creek Business Village. Once I’m back, I go directly to my i Phone and take a picture of the front cover of my new book. Instead of getting back to work, I skim the introductory chapter, which is titled, ‘Hi, my name is Caz and I’m an Internet Chataholic’.
I tweet: ‘An absolute gem at the free books table outside local organic grocer. Carol reports that she is writing these introductory notes at her favourite cafe, with pen and paper, a ‘latte by my side’, which is her way of getting physical distance, or escaping from, the computer; ‘I find it hard to be at my computer for long spells,’ she writes, ‘and not go looking for my friends online’.