Whoosh! Issue 50 - November 2000

By Dyann Esparza
Content copyright © 2000 held by author
Edition copyright © 2000 held by Whoosh!
1197 words

1995, A Very Good Year (01-04)
Not Just for Geeks Anymore (05-06)
From the Fringes (07-09)
And into the Warp and Weave (10)

Is There a Correlation between the Explosive Growth on the Internet and the XenaVerse?

If only the 'delete' key worked with bad episodes!

Even Yahoo! Internet Life recognised XENA way back when.

1995, A Very Good Year

[1] When it happened, no one was really paying that much attention. The year was 1995. The place was anywhere USA. The event, well, it could be several. A new television series, a spin-off to the popular syndicated show Hercules: The Legendary Journeys called Xena: Warrior Princess, began. More than the premiere of the story of this former warlord, there was something else happening.

[2] I have often wondered about the connection between the overwhelming success of Xena and the newly burgeoning Internet. For a detailed history of the early Xenaverse, see the Whoosh Cyberhistory article by Diane Silver, "A Cyber History of the Xena Online Community, Part 1, September 1995 to June 1996". She detailed the "premiere" of the Universal Netforum site in October of 1995.

[3] Here is something else that was happening in 1995:

"On October 24, 1995, the FNC unanimously passed a resolution [http://www.fnc.gov/Internet_res.html] defining the term Internet. This definition was developed in consultation with members of the Internet and intellectual property rights communities. RESOLUTION: The Federal Networking Council (FNC) agrees that the following language reflects our definition of the term "Internet". "'Internet' refers to the global information system that -- (i) is logically linked together by a globally unique address space based on the Internet Protocol (IP) or its subsequent extensions/follow-ons; (ii) is able to support communications using the Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) suite or its subsequent extensions/follow-ons, and/or other IP- compatible protocols; and (iii) provides, uses or makes accessible, either publicly or privately, high level services layered on the communications and related infrastructure described herein." [Note 01]

[4] The term Internet had been defined. What else was happening in 1995? Usenet groups had almost tripled in the amount of 'traffic' or messages being listed. Three hundred thirty thousand sites (330,000), five hundred eighty-six (586) MB (megabytes), and one hundred thirty-one thousand six hundred fourteen (131,614) posts per day. The WWW (World Wide Web) surpassed ftp-data in March (1995) as the service with greatest traffic on NSFNet based on packet count, and in April based on byte count. Traditional online dial- up systems, such as CompuServe, America Online (AOL), and Prodigy, began to provide Internet access [Note 02].

Not Just for Geeks Anymore

[5] What is all this leading too? People who had, prior to 1995, not accessed the Internet were not among the technically savvy group who were "online" on message posting boards and reading their "email" on the Unix based pine mail system. Suddenly, AOL is mass mailing their free hours online. People begin to trickle on. The number of web-servers went from 100,000 in January of 1996 to 462,047 by October of the same year. In TV-land, the ratings from the first season of XWP are admirable for a fledgling series (for a detailed breakdown, see the ratings area on Whoosh!. Yet by the time 1996 rolls around, there are Xena sites popping up at an almost exponential rate, the mailing lists begin in full- force, and the increase in traffic on the Netforum is evident.

[6] By the time Lucy Lawless has her accident in October of 1996, the media moves in, not just covering the accident but also the HUGE following she has on the net. This creates a kind of cycle of media coverage of the accident, which mentions the Internet following, which leads to people logging on to look for the websites, people flocking to the websites, joining the lists, creating new sites etc. Seemingly overnight, because that is how quickly things change online, the formerly intimate online lists and the NetForum becomes inundated with the "newbies". Is it really a surprise that the ratings for Xena went up in the months that followed?

From the Fringes

[7] What is the connection between the runaway success of Xena and the Internet? Possibly none, or possibly there was a synergy that was created then that lingers to this day. In 1995 and 1996 it was very easy to dismiss the people who spent days in front of their computers, linked by the 28.8 modems, scrolling through the pages, looking at screen captures on Tom's Xenafan site, or reading newly posted fan-fiction on the Netforum.

[8] Repeatedly, these "netizens" were dismissed as a fringe group-not indicative of the "larger" world. What people failed to realize then was that this growing electronic society was a microcosm of the larger society. People in Australia were chatting excitedly with people from Hong Kong and somewhere in Kansas about this television show.

[9] These "netizens" are the people who made the first ever Xena Convention a sold out success. These are the people who purchased the trickle that became the flood of merchandise. Yet, in a world where almost every major corporation has a dot-com presence, where the court systems still wrestle with the ever-changing legalities of intellectual property, and where the technology helped propel the U.S. economy into the stratosphere, is it smart business to dismiss the "netizens" now?

And into the Warp and Weave

[10] They are no longer the fringe. Xena sites continue to pop up, people continue to join the mailing lists, and the postings on the Netforum have not slowed much thanks to episode repeats on the USA network. In the four years since, many of us have watched from the sidelines as the small town became a bustling metropolis. Those were heady days way back when. Even with the growth and change, it is not unlike a certain Warrior Princess said back then, "No matter what, we're family" [Note 03].


Note 01:
See http://www.isoc.org/internet/history/brief.html#Origins
Return to article

Note 02:
See http://www.isoc.org/guest/zakon/Internet/History/HIT.html
Return to article

Note 03:
Return to article


Dyann Esparza, "Examining the Depth of Xena and Gabrielle's Relationship" Whoosh! #33 (June 1999)

Dyann Esparza, "Warrior's Path: A Survival Guide for Modern Day Heroes as Gleaned from Xena: Warrior Princess, The" Whoosh! #17 (February 1998)


FullName Dyann Esparza
Once there came into the world a fledgling li'l geekling, who wandered the world over and meandered here and there and there and here. Until lo, one day, she-now a full fledged GeekGrrl-found the fledgling Xenaverse and discovered, to her endless delight, a site call International Association for Xena Studies and their publication WHOOSH. "Magnificently Kewl," she thought and promptly volunteered (or was swayed by the editor; I can't remember how the story goes) to become a staffer. Still not sure what it is I do, I continue to meander, and that seems to be enough.
Favorite episode: THE DEBT (52,53/306,307)
Favorite line: Lao Ma: "And you will be my Warrior Princess." THE DEBT I (53/307)
First episode seen: SINS OF THE PAST (01/101)
Least favorite episode: FOR HIM THE BELL TOLLS (40/216)

Return to Top Return to Index