Pre-(Net) Historic Dream Communications 
DreamGate Cyberdream History
Long distance communications have been available for quite awhile and have been used by dream concerned individuals in various ways. Phone calls to fellow researchers, 900 dream interpretation numbers, calls to friends and family about "The nightmare I just had!" and pre-cognitive dream fears are all well known (1), as well as talk shows on Radio and Televison. 
John Herbert's Offline vs Online Dream Study
With the advent of modems, devices able to connect computers via telephone lines, there arose regional Bulletin Board services (BBS). Now people could leave messages and communicate with others who weren't directly connected to the Bulletin Board at that particular moment. John Herbert, for example, used this system to conduct a study on the difference between dream groups that met only by posts to bulletin boards, and those meeting Face-to-Face (2). But to connect to a BBS you have to call that phone number directly. If you don't live in the same Area Code, it can get very expensive. And so one BBS would be somewhat isolated from other BBS's. 
When USENET became popular among the USA University crowd in the late 1980's, the idea of the Regional Bulletin Board was expanded nationally (and in some cases, internationally) and the discussion of dreams could be found in various Usenet Newsgroup topic boards. Usenet was organized like a real bulletin board, where one could post a note and others could read and post replies. Group discussions may them develop over time. Because of the popularity of BBS's, the Usenet bulletin boards were called "Newsgroups". By the 1990's all but the most wild of the Newsgroups were accessible via the Internet, and it was clear that dreams needed their own Newsgroup. "alt.dreams" was formed (3)
Usenet Info Link (Brzeski Gallery Piece)
The Newsgroup alt.dreams was 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 (4) 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. 
Although alt.dreams provided a global gathering spot and spawned other related newsgroups like alt.dreams.lucid and alt.dreams.castaneda, the un-moderated venue lacked something essential for those used to face-to-face dream sharing. Individuals that did want more formed smaller private e-mail groups away from the alt.dreams newsgroup. 
Electric Dreams and Other Dream Communities 
DreamGate Cyberdream History
One of these groups distributed a collection of the dreams and comments between the subscribers and then published the comments and replies in a weekly format. When I found the community in the fall of 1994 they had grown to about 60 members and the dreams and comments were shared in a bi-monthly E-zine, (an electronically distributed magazine via E-mail) which they called Electric Dreams. Interest in this format grew and Electric Dreams grew from 60 to 500 subscribers in the following year and added news, articles and experimental dream events, but remained primarily focused on dream sharing in cyberspace. Concerns about this free speech forum now include a). the potential abuse of interpretive authority (anyone can comment and pretend they are someone they are not and some feel that *any* comment is abusive), b). lack of support for dreamers who submit dreams (what if a dream interpretation unlocks psychological instability?) and c). context or set & setting confusion (5) (What if someone thinks this is psychotherapy, what if children joined a group with adults? ). 
Electric Dreams Community [image] Another of the problems faced by the Electric Dreams community was the two week delay in the dream being presented and the return comments. A solution was found when I met John Herbert and participated in his ALL SeniorNet Dream Bulletin Board. John Herbert's groups used a technique inspired by the Ullman/Zimmerman techniques (10) , which he had worked out on the WELL and ALL. A dream was selected, the group asked non-interpretive questions, then each person took the dream as their own. During the process, the dreamer could respond or reply as he or she chose. 
The process was modified for e-mail and the first Electric Dreams Dream Circles (6) were created. A dream was passed around in round-robin style from one e-mail address with questions and replies added by each participant. The ED Dream Circle was great for sharing dreams, but an administrative nightmare. Jay Vinton suggested we use a Mail List style approach and the problems seemed to disappear. In a Mail List approach, all the members send all comments to everyone in the group, even if the comment is directed to just one individual. This process creates a feeling of group identity and cohesion. 
Dream Sharing These new mail list dream groups, the Dream Wheels (No connection with the Ramsay Raymond Dreamwheel), have evolved in several new creative directions. Generally the process has been refined and newer sharing and distribution methods have improved (For more on the technical aspects of Mail Lists, see the Dream Cyberphile pg 26 in the ASD newsletter 1996 13.1, 26-27.). However, while the technical & methodological procedures have developed quickly, the resolution of concerns about the safety and appropriateness of dream sharing online seems to be taking a little more time. 
Cyber-Dream Sharing Goes to School and Gets International Attention 
DreamGate Cyberdream History
Both Jayne Gackenbach and I felt that combining education with the experiential groups represented an advance over just offering experimental groups. Several projects followed. Jayne developed a program with Grant MacEwan which now includes e-mail classes and bulletin board dream sharing. (8) . When I expanded the DreamGate classes to include the community beyond Electric Dreams subscribers, we incorporated many of the safety features that Jayne created and implemented in her classes including the post-session questionnaires and the pre-session clarifications about the context and rules of group.(9) 
When the Dream Cyberworld Project for the ASD XIII conference was proposed, the ASD executive board foresightedly accepted and supported the project. The only concern was that dream sharing via computers at the conference might be confused as promotion or endorsement when in fact we were all still wondering as a group just exactly what it really was. The Conference XIII programs thus provided no online dream sharing, but did provide plenty of examples and samples, giving interested individuals a chance to see the spectrum of possibilities . 
During the Berkeley Conference XIII, Sarah Richard's brought together in a panel the many of the more active of individuals involved in online dream sharing, including Jayne Gackenback, Jeremy Taylor, John Herbert and myself. Fred Olsen and Linton Hutchinson also participated in sharing their collective experiences. Not one of these people reported any problems with online dream sharing in any of the groups or sessions. There were some who were confused about the procedures at times, and some who didn't participate who didn't like the *idea* of what was happening, but no reports of unhappy participants or incidents requiring crisis intervention. 
The idea of dream sharing on the Net continues to bring to peoples' minds a myriad of possible disasters. Why haven't these disasters shown up?  

Herbert's study suggests that online dream sharing provides more insight than face-to-face dream sharing. His results were not statistically significant but reveal an observation that in the cooler, non-confrontive atmosphere of writing e-mail at one's home computer, the responses and questions to and from the dreamer are more reflective and less emotional. This also points to a weakness in e-mail dream sharing scheme for those who like more emotional interplay. It appears then, that while dream groups online may not yet be appropriate for many psychotherapy, they do provide a safe and anonymous venue for adults to meaningfully explore meaning and value. 

As these dream sharing groups evolve and more studies are done, we will have a better picture of the scope, range and relevancy of e-mail and bulletin board style dream sharing. 
DreamGate Cyberdream History
DreamGate Cyberdream History
IRC and Chat Rooms For Dream Sharing
DreamGate Cyberdream History
Not all of Cyberspace is filled with e-mail and message boards! A popular but less formal mode of dream sharing is Internet Relay Chat, or IRC. IRC provides a group with a real-time screen that allows for several conversations via text to take place at once. As soon as one finishes typing, the message is displayed on everyone else's screen that is participating in the chat "room". Thousands of rooms are open at any specific time and anyone who connects can create a topic room in a few seconds. When you leave, the room disappears. 
The advantage to IRC dream sharing is that there is immediate processing of imagery which leads to more emotionally toned sessions and the sense of the person being "there". I have not found any research on dream sharing on IRC, but participants have reported that the meetings are valuable to them. Fred Olsen mentioned during the 1996 Berkeley Panel that some participants preferred chat style sharing to face-to-face groups because they are anonymous and they didn't feel embarrassed. Successful and favored techniques by the groups include non-directive questioning, such as variations of Gayle Delaney's Interview Method, Dream Re-entry approaches such as those of Fred Olsen and Explorational techniques like those used by Jermey Taylor. (For a sample in print, see Barbara Viglizzo's chapter in Mark Stefik's Internet Dreams, 1996, MIT Press, 353-387) 
These Chat Channels are also popular with the commercial online servers, such as America Online, Compuserve, Prodigy and Microsoft Network, and have spawned some very popular shows. On Compuserve, for example, Donna Campos host the Dream Studio regularly on Monday Nights in the New Age Forum. Jeremy Taylor hosts the Dream Show on America Online at Channel One in the Hub on weekday mornings. Ed Kellogg hosts Alien Talk, where discussion of Lucid and other kinds of dreaming take place on the MSN, MircoSoft Network. 
Often, these shows will combine with other dream resources, bulletin boards and information centers, full of dream info and references. The disadvantage is that only those who have subscriptions to these specific providers may connect and join in the group. With IRC, anyone with a connection to the Net and IRC software may join the group. 
Explosion of Dream Sites World Wide Web 
DreamGate Cyberdream History
The years 1995 and 1996 have seen the launching of a fleet of dream sites concerned with dream sharing. I'm using the term "dream sharing" very loosely here to include journal exhibition, dream inspired art, sound recordings, dream predictions, dream inspired poetry and texts using dreams, as well as cultural & other exhibitions inspired by dreams. Some dream sharing web sites turn the dream into a huge hyperlinked image that becomes linked to a multitude of other sites. The elephant in my dream text, for example, can link to a site about elephants, or the Hindu elephant god, or both. 
I feel the best way to explore these sites and ideas is to just go do it! I've brought together the sites and arranged them in catagories that seem logical to me, but really are subjective groupings. Thus I have included other people's attempts to index and catagorize the Dream Sites, organiztions, publications clubs and resources on the Web and Net. 
DreamGate Cyberdream History
DreamGate Cyberdream History

Dream Sites on the Web and Internet 


(1) Dream Phone services have been used, for example, by the Delaney & Flowers Center for the Study of Dreams, Fred Olsen's Reentry line and the Hotline of Tony Dubetz, among others.

(2) 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, (25 Nov.1996)

(3) Herbert, J. W. (1991). "Notes on the creation of alt.dreams." In "Human Science Research Methods.. (see above) (28 Oct. 1996)

(4) Beradt, Charlotte (1966). The Third Reich of Dreams. Translated by Adriane Gottwald. Chicago: Quadrangle Books

(5) Richards, Sarah (1996, April 22). "RE: Dream Interpretation: The significance of set and setting." ASD Web Bulletin Board. (25 Nov. 1996)

(6) Wilkerson, Richard C. (1995). "Dream Circles: A Sample Session of Dream Sharing using E-mail Round Robin.". Electric Dreams. (28 Nov. 1996)

(7) Wilkerson, R. & Hicks, C. (1996). "Dreamwheels: a Sample Session of Dream Sharing Using Mail List Formats." (28 Nov. 1996)

(8) Gackenbach, Jayne (1996). Unlocking the Secrets of your Dreams. Grant MacEwan Community College. (25 Oct. 1996)

(9) Wilkerson, Richard C. (1996). From Ancient Thrace to Cyberspace: The History & Practice of Dream Sharing. DreamGate Classes. (28 Nov. 1996)

(10) See Herbet's paper for the similarities and differences between Ullman and Herbert.

Add your own links & story to this online History!