In 1994, the online members of the Fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous
began to look forward to participating in the International Convention
in San Diego, held in June 1995. Many in our community felt it would
be a great opportunity to meet some of our fellow alcoholics face
to face, further bonding the close friendships we had made in our
The Living Cyber Committee was formed in March 1994 to coordinate
the hosting of a hospitality suite at the convention. Participation
― or membership ― in the LCC was open to all recovering alcoholics
who wished to join. Alcoholics from all corners of the online community
― bulletin boards, commercial online services, and the Internet ―
joined in the effort.
Prior to the convention, the LCC endeavored to communicate its existence,
purpose, and activities to all known online A.A. groups. A Web page
was set up. Flyers containing information on how to contact the Fellowship
online and how to find online A.A. resources were compiled, printed,
and distributed at the convention.
Our plans evolved to include a link to the online fellowship ― to
those who could not attend the convention in person. Three computers
were set up in the suite and stayed online continuously with alcoholics
around the world.
The Living Cyber Suite was a resounding success, providing a gathering
place for members of online groups to meet each other in person,
usually for the first time. Visitors were given an opportunity to
log on to the actual online Fellowship. Those unable to travel to
San Diego were able to "virtually" attend the convention
through the suite. Two major email groups, several groups from the
major online services, and an Internet Relay Chat channel participated
in uniting alcoholics from all over the world with the online members
and visitors in the suite.
Following the convention, it was decided to dissolve the existing
committee and reform. All online A.A. groups were invited to send
a representative to the committee. We decided that we should serve
as an Intergroup, serving the A.A. groups online.
The Online Intergroup of Alcoholics Anonymous now represents scores
of online groups with a combined membership numbering many thousands.
Original Purpose and Objectives Statement (circa mid-1990s)
The phenomena of the new technology of computers, modems, World
Wide Web, and Internet communication gave birth to a new medium of
exchange through which alcoholics could interact with other alcoholics.
Over the last several years, many new online meetings have sprung
up which, having no geographical boundaries, were not able to fit
the service structures of the usual face to face (f2f) meetings of
A.A.. Out of this grew a recognition on the part of many online groups
that some form of service group was necessary to assist and facilitate
communication and coordination of the cyberspace A.A. milieu. While
the official service structure of A.A. is attempting to develop a
strategy for including the online meetings within that structure,
the Online Intergroup of Alcoholics Anonymous (OIAA) was formed to
provide services typical for Intergroups or Central Offices of face-to-face
meetings. While most Intergroups serve specific geographic regions,
OIAA was established to serve cyberspace.
The primary purpose of all Alcoholics Anonymous groups is to carry
its message to the alcoholic who still suffers. Out of that purpose,
OIAA has committed itself to assisting member groups in several ways,
most of which are related specifically to the medium of cyberspace.
Because personal recovery depends upon A.A. unity, we at OIAA are
dedicated to assisting and facilitating the best possible unity of
service to and for A.A. in cyberspace. Communication and information
are two essential ingredients for establishing and maintaining unity;
therefore, OIAA is obliged to provide a central forum for the dissemination
of information about and for the online community of A.A. and A.A.
as a whole.
OIAA currently provides information in several ways, and we are
hoping to develop even more ways in the future. One way OIAA disseminates
information is the development and maintenance of the World Wide
Web Meeting Directories that includes email
meetings and groups as well as real
time (chat) meetings and groups. Another communication vehicle
is the OIAA Unity Committee, which is charged with communication
with other A.A. service bodies, such as local districts, intergroups,
areas, regions, AAWS, GSO-NY, and GSO-UK. A third form of communication
is the OIAA Public Information Committee, which responds to needs
at the public level and facilitates public awareness and understanding
of Alcoholics Anonymous by means of the Internet, news media, personal
contact, or non-AA public functions through conference approved literature,
speakers, or correspondence and in accordance with the 12 Steps,
12 Traditions, and 12 Concepts of Alcoholics Anonymous.
The OIAA is also in the process of developing guidelines to assist
its member groups, future groups, other intergroups, f2f meetings,
districts, areas, and GSOs, and AAWS with the ins and outs of the
online experience. This may translate into online publication of
how-to service pieces on establishing online groups, or dealing with
the traditions in cyberspace, or a number of other nuts and bolts
issues (like creating home pages, etc.).
Another priority for OIAA is the development of joint projects for
its member groups. These would include providing a presence at International
Conventions, local conventions and round-ups, and demonstrations
of how online A.A. works. OIAA itself was born out of one such project
at the 1995 International Convention
in San Diego. We hope to provide such a presence at many conventions
in the future.
The online phenomenon is relatively new, but the membership of online
groups has been swelling tremendously recently as news of its existence
reaches the world-wide membership of A.A. We expect this trend to
continue and hope that OIAA will be able to provide the cyberspace
community with the kind of services such membership will require.
It is an exciting experience and one which all of us at OIAA are
dedicated to provideingunder the principles of A.A.'s steps, traditions,
Governing Body of the Intergroup and Membership
The governing body of OIAA is the Intergroup Committee. The Intergroup
Committee consists of one Intergroup Representative or Alternate
Representative from each member group; the officers of OIAA; and
the past officers of OIAA (for one year after their term of office).
A group is a member group of OIAA by having a representative or alternate
in the Intergroup who participates in the bi-annual elections and
the business of the Intergroup. However, any online A.A. group which
chooses not to participate as a member group cannot be denied the
services of the Intergroup (such as listing in the Meeting Directories),
so long as they qualify as an A.A. group under the traditions of
A.A. and the guidelines of the Intergroup. The primary qualification
for an A.A. group is that, as a group, they have no other affiliation
(Traditions 5, 6, & 10).
Each group has one vote (through their representative or their alternate)
and no individual can have more than one vote ― so it is recommended
that each representative only serve one member group. Upon election
to an OIAA office, the officer-elect steps down from representing
the member group which formerly elected them. In this way, each group
is assured of representation specific to it's concerns and each officer
can then address the concerns of OIAA as a whole.
The OIAA officers currently consist of an Intergroup Chair, Alternate
Chair, Secretary, Treasurer, Historian/Archivist, Listkeeper, and
the Chairpersons of our standing committees: the Policy and Admissions,
the World Wide Web, the Finance, Public Information, Convention,